Communities of Practice and the Challenge of Management Support

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Conference proceedings of the International Conference on Knowledge Management and Information Sharing 2009.

Abstract paper: Communities of Practice (CoP) are a strategic asset for innovative organisations. However, managers have problems to manage and facilitate CoPs, and therewith to harvest the benefits of these communities for the organisation. The goal of this research is to supply managers with a support framework to facilitate the development of CoPs, the CoP activities, and their contribution to the organisation. A design science study is conducted, which comprises of a literature research to develop a knowledge base and a study of cases to develop an environment base. Combined these sources are used to create a support tool, which was then evaluated by an expert panel.

Published in: Business

Communities of Practice and the Challenge of Management Support

  1. 1. Communities of Practice and the Challenge of Management Support Eric Bun | eric.bun@vka.nl Pieter de Vries, Gwendolyn Kolfschoten & Wim Veen Delft University of Technology International Conference October 6, 2009 on Knowledge Management and Information Sharing, Co-created by: KMIS 2009
  2. 2. Meet Mark Mark works as a software developer at an international IT company.
  3. 3. Mark freely participates in a Community of Practice (CoP) to think about new marketing tools.
  4. 4. It all started with aa It all started with brainstorm…. POTENTIAL POTENTIALbrainstorm…. STAGE STAGE CoP evolvement in stages
  5. 5. ...everyone enjoyed it, ...everyone enjoyed it, so we decided to build so we decided to build aa community… community… BUILDING BUILDING POTENTIAL STAGE POTENTIAL STAGE STAGE STAGE CoP evolvement in stages
  6. 6. ….common goal: “to ….common goal: “to leverage our knowledge leverage our knowledge and build new and build new marketing tools for the marketing tools for the web” web” ENGAGED ENGAGED BUILDING BUILDING STAGE STAGE POTENTIAL STAGE POTENTIAL STAGE STAGE STAGE CoP evolvement in stages
  7. 7. …… new innovative marketing new innovative marketing tools that were based on the tools that were based on the knowledge of people across knowledge of people across the company the company ENGAGED ENGAGED ACTIVE ACTIVE STAGE STAGE BUILDING BUILDING STAGE STAGE POTENTIAL STAGE POTENTIAL STAGE STAGE STAGE CoP evolvement in stages
  8. 8. Interesting right? “CoPs are a strategic asset for innovative organisations”
  9. 9. However, did you notice….
  10. 10. ….that the value was actually created without any visible support of Mark’s management?
  11. 11. Meet Mr. Burns Mr. Burns is Mark’s manager. He is a good manager but certainly not used to manage informal value netwerks such as CoPs.
  12. 12. Mr. Burns classical Classical Classical Management Styles management Management Styles (Fayol, 1949) My manage- (Fayol, 1949) style does not ment style •• Planning Planning seem to fit to •• Organising Organising •• Commanding new Commanding •• Co-ordinating Co-ordinating organisational •• Controlling Controlling formats such as CoPs.
  13. 13. Nevertheless, Mr. Burns tries to intervene since he acknowledge the importance of the CoP for the organisation. How classical management styles are handled in a CoP Planning Planning CoPs emerge spontaneously CoPs emerge spontaneously Organising Organising CoPs organise themselves & roles emerge CoPs organise themselves & roles emerge Commanding Commanding Relationships are leading, not hierarchy Relationships are leading, not hierarchy Co-ordinating Co-ordinating CoPs motivate/engage resources themselves CoPs motivate/engage resources themselves Controlling Controlling Controlling structures subject ofofnegotiation Controlling structures subject negotiation
  14. 14. The Management Paradox “BUSINESS MANAGERS ARE ABLE TO CULTIVATE COPS BY PROVIDING THE RIGHT SUPPORT […], BUT MANAGERS COULD RATHER EASILY DESTROY THE VALUE OF COMMUNITIES BY IMPOSING TOO MUCH, OR WRONG MANAGEMENT EFFORTS. […]” (based on Wenger and Snyder, 2000)
  15. 15. Since Mr. Burns, David, is now aware of the management paradox, he uses a support tool to cultivate the CoP of Mark Best Practices from casestudy: 55Best Practices from case study study: study •• Appoint Energisers; Appoint Energisers; •• Assess people on how they Assess people on how they share their knowledge; share their knowledge; •• Lower tresholds to constitute Lower tresholds to constitute CoPs; CoPs; •• Obligate employees to store Obligate employees to store ‘lessons learned’;; ‘lessons learned’ •• Utilise intervision and Utilise intervision and empower employees. empower employees.
  16. 16. In the future, David, would like to conduct additional research on… 1. Transition 2. Effectiveness of management the Support Tool Support Tool ENGAGED ENGAGED ACTIVE ACTIVE STAGE STAGE BUILDING BUILDING STAGE STAGE POTENTIAL STAGE POTENTIAL STAGE STAGE STAGE CoP evolvement in stages
  17. 17. Communities of Practice and the Challenge of Management Support Eric Bun | eric.bun@vka.nl Conference Proceedings for KMIS, 2009 Thank you!

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