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Co. P Definition “… a group of professionals informally bound to one another through exposure to a common class of problems, common pursuit of solutions, and thereby themselves embodying a store of knowledge - Manville and Foote 1996
History of Co. Ps • Lave & Wenger introduced Communities of Practice in 1991. • Lave & Wenger propose the concept of Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LPP. (
Defining Communities of Practice • Communities of practice (Co. P) are everywhere. • Members of a community are informally bound by what they do together. • The community and the degree of participation are inseparable from the practice.
Dimensions of Co. Ps • What it is about – A joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiated by its members. • How it functions – Mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity. • What capability it has produced – the shared repertoire of communal resources (routines, sensibilities, artifacts, vocabulary, styles, etc. ) that members have developed over time.
Community Organization • Communities of practice develop around things that matter to people. • Members develop practices that are their own response to external influences. • They are fundamentally self-organizing systems.
Why Support Co. Ps? • Formal knowledge management is not enough. • There is greater potential for information flow when Co. Ps are supported. • Innovative solutions can arise at boundaries between Co. Ps.
Where are they found? • Within businesses. • Across business units. • Across company boundaries.
What Co. Ps are Not • A community of practice is not a community of interest or a geographical community. • A community of practice is different from a business or functional unit. • A community of practice is different from a team. • A community of practice is different from a network.
Types of Co. Ps • • • Unrecognized. Bootlegged. Legitimized. Strategic. Transformative.
Unrecognized Co. P • Invisible to the organization and sometimes even to members themselves. • Lack of reflexivity, awareness of value and of limitation.
Bootlegged Co. P • Only visible informally to a circle of people in the know. • Getting resources, having an impact, keeping hidden.
Legitimized Co. P • Officially sanctioned as a valuable entity. • Scrutiny, over-management, new demands.
Strategic Co. P • Widely recognized as central to the organization's success. • Short-term pressures, blindness of success, smugness, elitism, exclusion.
Transformative Co. P • Capable of redefining its environment and the direction of the organization. • Relating to the rest of the organization, acceptance, managing boundaries.
Potential Dispersed Active Memorable Coalescing People face similar Members no longer Members engage le ab or em M er Di sp Ac tiv e se cin Co al es l nt ia te Po d g The. Members community is no longer Come situations without engage very intensely, in developing a central, but people still the practice benefittogether of a but and still alive as a force remember it as a significant recognize their shared practice and a center of part of the identities in joint potential Engaging knowledge activities, renewing interesting, Staying in. Telling touch, stories, Exploring commitment and Finding each communicating, connectedness, defining relationships preserving artifacts, other, holding reunions, joint enterprise, collecting memorabilia calling for discovering advice negotiating community commonalities
Importance of Co. Ps to Organizations • An effective organization is comprised of a constellation of interconnected Co. Ps. • Each deals with a specific aspect of the company's competency. • It is by these communities that knowledge is “owned” in practice.
Movement of Information • They are nodes for the exchange and interpretation of information. • Members know what is relevant to communicate and how to present information in useful ways.
Preservation of Knowledge • They can retain knowledge in “living” ways. • Communities of practice preserve the tacit aspects of knowledge that formal systems cannot capture.
Organization Advancement • Members distribute responsibility for keeping up with or pushing new developments. • People invest their professional identities in being part of a dynamic, forward-looking community.
Employee Identity • They provide homes for identities. • Identities manifest themselves in the jargon people use, the clothes they wear, and the remarks they make. • Supporting communities helps people develop their identities.
Co. P Boundaries • Someone who is a member of two Co. Ps is in a unique position. • Radically new insights often arise at the boundary between communities.
Leadership of Co. Ps • Co. Ps often have more than one leader. • Leaders are chosen internally. • Leadership often doesn’t coincide with authority.
Types of Co. P Leadership • • Inspirational (thought leaders and experts) Day-to-day (organizers of activities) Classificatory (organizers of information) Interpersonal (social leaders) Boundary (connect to other communities) Institutional (the official hierarchy) Cutting-edge (initiators)
Fostering Co. Ps • Communities of practice exist whether or not the organization recognizes them. • Many are best left alone. • A good number will benefit from some attention.
Legitimizing participation • Recognize the work of sustaining the Co. P. • Acknowledge the value of the Co. P. • Give members the time to participate in activities.
Negotiating • People work in teams for projects but belong to communities of practice. • The long-term benefits of Co. Ps are difficult to appreciate. • Pay attention to the opinion of Co. Ps on long term strategic decisions.
Leveraging Potential • The knowledge that companies need is usually already present in some form. • Fostering Co. Ps spreads knowledge to the people who need it. • Strong Co. Ps create their own solutions internally or externally.
Fine Tune the Organization • Management interest, reward systems, work processes, corporate culture, and company policies can suppress Co. Ps. • Do not micro-manage the community.
Co. P Support Teams • A company wide team or committee can support Co. Ps. • This sends the message that the organization values the work and initiative of communities of practice.
Distributed Co. Ps • Literature has shown no reason why a Co. P could not exist in a distributed environment. • Difficulties arise in the sharing of soft knowledge among distributed members. • Building trust, confidence and identity are problematic.
Distributed Co. Ps • Most relationships are made in a face to face meeting. • Face to face meetings are important even in distributed environments. • This sustains future communications but needs re-charging at periodic intervals.
Tools Enabling Dist Co. Ps • Interpersonal tools such as e-mail, instant messaging, video and voice conferencing. • Group communication tools such as newsgroups, forums, wiki. • Repositories such as FAQs; forums and wiki also can maintain knowledge.
Open Source Co. Ps • Open Source projects are distributed Co. Ps because: – They share a joint enterprise. – They are self organizing in their structure. – They share communal resources.
Negative Aspects of Co. Ps • Communities can become liabilities if their own expertise becomes insular. • Co. Ps can be difficult to define and identify, and are therefore hard to support. • Co. Ps can interfere with corporate organization.
References Wagner, Etienne. “Communities of Practice, Learning as a Social System”, Systems Thinker, 1998. http: //www. co-i-l. com/coil/knowledge-garden/cop/lss. shtml Neus, Andreas. “Managing Information Quality in Virtual Communities of Practice”, International Conference on Information Quality at MIT, 2001. http: //opensource. mit. edu/papers/neus. pdf Kimble, Chris, Hildreth, Paul, Peter, Wright, Peter. “Communities of Practice: Going Virtual”, 2001. http: //www-users. cs. york. ac. uk/~kimble/research/13 kimble. pdf Faraj, Samer, Wasko, Molly Mc. Lure. “The Web of Knowledge: An Investigation of Knowledge Exchange in Networks of Practice”, Academy of Management Journal, 2001. http: //opensource. mit. edu/papers/Farajwasko. pdf Elliot, Margaret S, “Computing in a Virtual Organizational Culture: Open Software Communities as Occupational Subcultures”, University of California, Irvine, 2002. http: //www. ics. uci. edu/~melliott/occup-subcul. pdf
Summary • Communities of Practice are everywhere. • People often do not realize they are Co. P members. • Co. Ps are important to the success of an organization.
Summary • Companies can nurture Co. Ps as a knowledge management strategy. • Distributed Co. Ps are possible and may be in your future!