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CoP Definition “… a group of professionals informally bound to one another through exposure to a common class of problems, common pursuit of solutions,

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Presentation on theme: "CoP Definition “… a group of professionals informally bound to one another through exposure to a common class of problems, common pursuit of solutions,"— Presentation transcript:

1 CoP 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

2 History of CoPs Lave & Wenger introduced Communities of Practice in 1991. Lave & Wenger propose the concept of Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LPP).

3 Defining Communities of Practice Communities of practice (CoP) 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.

4 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. Dimensions of CoPs

5 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.

6 Why Support CoPs? Formal knowledge management is not enough. There is greater potential for information flow when CoPs are supported. Innovative solutions can arise at boundaries between CoPs.

7 Where are they found? Within businesses. Across business units. Across company boundaries.

8 What CoPs 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.

9 Types of CoPs Unrecognized. Bootlegged. Legitimized. Strategic. Transformative.

10 Unrecognized CoP Invisible to the organization and sometimes even to members themselves. Lack of reflexivity, awareness of value and of limitation.

11 Bootlegged CoP Only visible informally to a circle of people in the know. Getting resources, having an impact, keeping hidden.

12 Legitimized CoP Officially sanctioned as a valuable entity. Scrutiny, over-management, new demands.

13 Strategic CoP Widely recognized as central to the organization's success. Short-term pressures, blindness of success, smugness, elitism, exclusion.

14 Transformative CoP Capable of redefining its environment and the direction of the organization. Relating to the rest of the organization, acceptance, managing boundaries.

15 Memorable Potential Coalescing Active Dispersed Potential People face similar situations without the benefit of a shared practice Coalescing Members Come together and recognize their potential Dispersed Members no longer engage very intensely, but still alive as a force and a center of knowledge Staying in touch, communicating, holding reunions, calling for advice Active Members engage in developing a practice Finding each other, discovering commonalities Exploring connectedness, defining joint enterprise, negotiating community Telling stories, preserving artifacts, collecting memorabilia Engaging in joint activities, renewing interesting, commitment and relationships Memorable The community is no longer central, but people still remember it as a significant part of the identities

16 Importance of CoPs to Organizations An effective organization is comprised of a constellation of interconnected CoPs. Each deals with a specific aspect of the company's competency. It is by these communities that knowledge is “owned” in practice.

17 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.

18 Preservation of Knowledge They can retain knowledge in “living” ways. Communities of practice preserve the tacit aspects of knowledge that formal systems cannot capture.

19 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.

20 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.

21 CoP Boundaries Someone who is a member of two CoPs is in a unique position. Radically new insights often arise at the boundary between communities.


23 Leadership of CoPs CoPs often have more than one leader. Leaders are chosen internally. Leadership often doesn’t coincide with authority.

24 Types of CoP 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)

25 Fostering CoPs Communities of practice exist whether or not the organization recognizes them. Many are best left alone. A good number will benefit from some attention.

26 Legitimizing participation Recognize the work of sustaining the CoP. Acknowledge the value of the CoP. Give members the time to participate in activities.

27 Negotiating People work in teams for projects but belong to communities of practice. The long-term benefits of CoPs are difficult to appreciate. Pay attention to the opinion of CoPs on long term strategic decisions.

28 Leveraging Potential The knowledge that companies need is usually already present in some form. Fostering CoPs spreads knowledge to the people who need it. Strong CoPs create their own solutions internally or externally.

29 Fine Tune the Organization Management interest, reward systems, work processes, corporate culture, and company policies can suppress CoPs. Do not micro-manage the community.

30 CoP Support Teams A company wide team or committee can support CoPs. This sends the message that the organization values the work and initiative of communities of practice.

31 Distributed CoPs Literature has shown no reason why a CoP 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.

32 Distributed CoPs 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.

33 Tools Enabling Dist CoPs 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.

34 Open Source CoPs Open Source projects are distributed CoPs because: –They share a joint enterprise. –They are self organizing in their structure. –They share communal resources.

35 Negative Aspects of CoPs Communities can become liabilities if their own expertise becomes insular. CoPs can be difficult to define and identify, and are therefore hard to support. CoPs can interfere with corporate organization.

36 References Wagner, Etienne. “Communities of Practice, Learning as a Social System”, Systems Thinker, 1998. Neus, Andreas. “Managing Information Quality in Virtual Communities of Practice”, International Conference on Information Quality at MIT, 2001. Kimble, Chris, Hildreth, Paul, Peter, Wright, Peter. “Communities of Practice: Going Virtual”, 2001. Faraj, Samer, Wasko, Molly McLure. “The Web of Knowledge: An Investigation of Knowledge Exchange in Networks of Practice”, Academy of Management Journal, 2001. Elliot, Margaret S, “Computing in a Virtual Organizational Culture: Open Software Communities as Occupational Subcultures”, University of California, Irvine, 2002.

37 Summary Communities of Practice are everywhere. People often do not realize they are CoP members. CoPs are important to the success of an organization.

38 Summary Companies can nurture CoPs as a knowledge management strategy. Distributed CoPs are possible and may be in your future!

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