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© 2002 Etienne Wenger Where to start? Why focus on communities of practice? help with challenges access to expertise confidence fun with colleagues meaningful work strategic capabilities keeping abreast innovation retention of talents new strategies personal development reputation professional identity network marketability problem solving time saving knowledge sharing synergies across units reuse of resources short-term valuelong-term value members organization What are some critical success factors? Domain that energizes a core group Skillful and reputable coordinator Involvement of experts Address details of practice Right rhythm and mix of activities Strategic relevance of domain Visible management sponsorship, but without micro-management Dance of formal and informal structures Adequate resources Consistent attitude communityorganization What are communities of practice? Communities of practice are groups of people who share a passion for something that they know how to do and who interact regularly to learn how to do it better. What elements to develop? the definition of the area of shared inquiry and of the key issues the relationships among members and the sense of belonging the body of knowledge, methods, stories, cases, tools, documents Domain: Community: Practice: Cultivating communities of practice a quick start-up guide by Etienne Wenger Cultivating communities of practice a quick start-up guide by Etienne Wenger Communities of practice are a familiar experience, but people need to understand how they fit in their work. Conduct workshops to educate management and potential members about the approach Help people appreciate how communities of practice are inherently self- defined and self-managed Establish a language to legitimize communities and establish their place in the organization A strategic context lets communities find a legitimate place in the organization Communities of practice can use some light-handed guidance and technology infrastructure. Practitioners usually see the value of working as a community but may feel the organization is not aligned with their understanding. The formal organization must have processes and structure to include these communities while honoring their root in personal passion and engagement. Starting to cultivate communities of practice as early as possible creates early examples that allow people to learn by doing. Provide some process support, coaching, and logistic assistance Identify needs and define adequate infrastructure without undue emphasis on fancy technology Have a few pilot communities going as soon as possible Find communities to start with by identifying areas where there is potential and readiness Interview some prospective members to understand issues, start discussing a community, and identify potential leaders Gather a core group to prepare and initiate a launch process Help members organize an initial series of value-adding activities Encourage them to take increasing responsibility for stewarding their knowledge Find sponsors to encourage participation Value the work of communities Publicize successes Integrate communities in the way the organization works Identify and remove obvious barriers Align key structural and cultural elements Articulate a strategic value proposition Identify critical business problems Articulate need to leverage knowledge educate encourage support get going set strategic context integrate
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