Communities of Practice LO26997

From: John D. Smith (
Date: 07/13/01

Replying to LO26975 --

Roderick French asks:

>Can someone explain to me how Organizational Learning is related to a
>community of practice....

That's a big question. Here are a few facets of an answer:

 * One answer is that it's not organizations that learn. It's the
communities inside them (and around them and on their borders) that really
do the learning. The idea there is that every organization consists of a
multitude of informal communities, each with their own sense of identity,
competence, and jargon. To the extent that those communities are vibrant
and productive, the organization can be said to learn.

 * One significant effort that the LO community has made has been toward
the learning disabilities of the community of managers. When you look at
managers from a community of pracatice perspective, they have some very
peculiar problems in that their practice is highly situated and sensitive.
Like all communities they have a tendency to want to learn in private and
that can have some very negative consequences. So it seems to me that the
LO idea is that by getting managers (which in a knowledge organization can
be a lot of people) to be more open to learning, the organization could be
said in some way to learn. (But historically the LO approach has not been
so community-oriented: it's focused on disciplines and techniques.)

 * There is a community working on some of these issues about how to lead
and develop communities of practice in a non-reductionist and respectful
way. One venue in that larger community is a discussion list that you are
invited to visit.


--* John D. Smith, 503.963.8229, 2025 SE Elliott Ave, Portland OR
--* ICQ: 72789757 cell: 503-975-7799
--* "With company you quicken your ascent." -- Rumi


"John D. Smith" <>

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