Cultivating communities of practice

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Cultivating communities of practice

Chapter 1: Communities of practice and their value to organizations
What is a community of practice?
These people don’t necessarily work together every day, but they meet because they find value in their interactions. They accumulate knowledge, and they become informally bound by the value that they find in learning together. This value is not merely instrumental for their work. It also accrues in the personal satisfaction of knowing colleagues who understand each other’s perspectives and of belonging to an interesting group of people. For example, artists congregate in cafes and studios to debate the merits of a new style or technique. Gang members learn to survive on the street and deal with an unfriendly world. Frontline managers running manufacturing operations get a chance to commiserate, to learn about upcoming technologies, and to foresee shifts in the winds of power.
Communities of practice are not a new idea. They were our first knowledge-based social structures, back when we lived in caves and gathered around the fire to discuss strategies for cornering prey, the shape of arrowheads, or which roots were edible. Communities of practice are everywhere, and we all belong to a number of them – at work, at school, at home, in our hobbies.

Knowledge has become the key to success and organizations need to become more intentional and systematic about “managing” knowledge. Community of practice is a good way to steward knowledge, so the age-old structure was given a new, central role in business.

Chapter 2: Communities of practice and their structural elements
Communities of practice take many forms
Small or big. Some communities of practice are small and intimate, involving only a few specialists, while others consist of hundreds of people.
Long-lived or short-lived. Some exist over centuries. For example, communities of artisans, such as violin makers, who pass their craft from generation to generation. However, many other communities of practice are shorter-lived but still last a good number of years.
Colocated or distributed. Sharing a practice requires regular interaction. Therefore, many communities starts among people who work at the same place or live nearby. However, the key of sharing knowledge is a common set of situations, problems, and perspectives, so colocation is not a necessity. Many communities of practice are distributed over wide areas. Many of them meet regularly and are connected mainly through phone and e-mail. With the development of new technologies and the need for globalization, the distributed communities of practice becomes the standard rather than the exception.
Homogeneous or heterogeneous. Some communities are homogeneous, composed of people from the same discipline or function. Others bring people with different backgrounds. For example, all people come from different functions, but they deal with a big customer or a certain country.
Inside and across boundaries. Comm

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Cultivating communities of practice

  1. 1. Cultivating Communities of Practice Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott & William M. Snyder Xiaoyu Wen CMN-5150 Knowledge Management and Social Media Dr. Pierre Levy Nov 28, 2011
  2. 2. Contents <ul><li>Chapter 1: Communities of practice and their value to organizations </li></ul><ul><li>Chapter 2: Communities of practice and their structural elements </li></ul><ul><li>Chapter 3: Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice </li></ul><ul><li>Chapter 4: The early stages of development – planning and launching communities of practice </li></ul><ul><li>Chapter 5: The mature stages of development – growing and sustaining communities of practice </li></ul><ul><li>Chapter 6: The challenges of distributed communities </li></ul><ul><li>Chapter 7: The downside of communities of practice </li></ul><ul><li>Chapter 8: Measuring and managing value creation </li></ul><ul><li>Chapter 9: Community-based knowledge initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>Chapter 10: Reweaving the world – communities beyond organizations </li></ul>
  3. 3. Chapter 1: Communities of practice and their value to organizations <ul><li>“ Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis”. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Chapter 2: Communities of practice and their structural elements <ul><li>Different forms </li></ul><ul><li>Small or big. </li></ul><ul><li>Long-lived or short-lived. </li></ul><ul><li>Colocated or distributed. </li></ul><ul><li>Homogeneous or heterogeneous. </li></ul><ul><li>Inside and across boundaries. </li></ul><ul><li>Spontaneous or intentional. </li></ul><ul><li>Unrecognized to institutionalized. </li></ul><ul><li>Three fundamental elements: </li></ul><ul><li>A domain of knowledge, which defines a set of issues; </li></ul><ul><li>A community of people who care about this domain; </li></ul><ul><li>The shared practice that they are developing to be effective in their domain. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Chapter 3: Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice <ul><li>What is the role of design for a “human institution” that is, by definition, natural, spontaneous, and self-directed? How do you guide such an institution to realize itself, to become “alive”? </li></ul><ul><li>Design for evolution. </li></ul><ul><li>Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives. </li></ul><ul><li>Invite different levels of participation. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop both public and private community spaces. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on value. </li></ul><ul><li>Combine familiarity and excitement. </li></ul><ul><li>Create a rhythm for the community. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Chapter 4: The early stages of development – planning and launching communities of practice Chapter 5: The mature stages of development – growing and sustaining communities of practice
  7. 7. Chapter 6: The challenges of distributed communities <ul><li>Four key development activities: </li></ul><ul><li>Achieve stake holder alignment. </li></ul><ul><li>Create a structure that promotes both local variations and global connections. </li></ul><ul><li>Build a rhythm strong enough to maintain community visibility </li></ul><ul><li>Develop the private space of the community more systematically. </li></ul><ul><li>Authors call “distributed” any community of practice that cannot rely on face-to-face meetings and interactions as its primary vehicle for connecting members. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Chapter 7: The downside of communities of practice <ul><li>What can go wrong with single communities </li></ul><ul><li>- Domain: the temptations of ownership </li></ul><ul><li>- Community: too much of good thing </li></ul><ul><li>- Practice: the liabilities of competence </li></ul><ul><li>What can go wrong with constellations of communities </li></ul><ul><li>What can go wrong with organizations </li></ul>
  9. 9. Chapter 8: Measuring and managing value creation <ul><li>Steps in a measurement process </li></ul><ul><li>For whom and for what purpose. </li></ul><ul><li>What to collect and how. </li></ul><ul><li>How to raise awareness about measurement </li></ul><ul><li>How to combine the data into an overall picture </li></ul><ul><li>When and where to measure </li></ul><ul><li>Managing the knowledge system </li></ul><ul><li>The key to managing a knowledge system is to link the processes that develop and apply knowledge to create value. When planning how to manage the value of knowledge resources, it is important to consider management as a set of functions managed by various players, not only managers. These functions include setting goals, managing performance, and funding. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Chapter 9: Community-based knowledge initiatives <ul><li>Phase 1: Prepare </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 2: Launch </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 3: Expand </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 4: Consolidate </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 5: Transform </li></ul><ul><li>Two additional development efforts are necessary to run the initiative </li></ul><ul><li>Develop an internal practice of community development. Create a support team, conduct educational events, and build a community among community-development practitioners. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultivate management sponsorship and stakeholder support. Identify key stakeholders, find ways to involve them, and generate executive sponsorship for communities and the initiative more broadly. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Chapter 10: Reweaving the world – communities beyond organizations <ul><li>“ If we view the world as a learning system, we can imagine a constellation of communities of practice – a “worldwide web” of interwoven communities that focus on various civic practices at different levels, including district, municipal, regional, national, and global. This broader learning system collectively provides the foundation of social capital to foster global learning and to improve socioeconomic outcomes.” </li></ul>
  12. 12. Related websites <ul><li>http://www.communities.idea.gov.uk/welcome.do </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.kstoolkit.org/Communities+of+Practice </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.pmi.org/Get-Involved/Communities-of-Practice.aspx </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.greenforall.org/what-we-do/building-a-movement/community-of-practice </li></ul><ul><li>http://agile.vc.pmi.org/Public/Home.aspx </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.gendercop.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>http ://informationr.net/ir/8-1/paper142.html </li></ul><ul><li>http ://www.providersedge.com/docs/km_articles/CoP_and_Organizational_Performance.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~brooks/storybiz/thomas.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>http://203.5.104.113/resources/quality/knowledgemgt/pdf/fabric.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.wetlands.za.net/documents/communities%20of%20practice/Communities%20of%20Practice%20Learning%20as%20a%20Social%20System ,%20Wenger%2098.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>http://cpsfiles.imamu.edu.sa/ar/Documents/Research%20Methods%20in%20the%20Social%20Sciences.pdf?title=Research%20Methods%20in%20the%20Social%20Sciences#page=197 </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.stanford.edu/~eckert/PDF/eckert2006.pdf </li></ul>

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