Communities of Practice (CoPs) LO22051

Fred Nickols (
Wed, 30 Jun 1999 05:54:29 -0400

Knowledge Management (KM) is hot. In that context, several companies are
attempting to foster, nurture, stimulate and support Communities of
Practice (CoPs).

To greatly oversimplify a very rich and complex subject, a CoP is a group
of people whose relations center on their work and in which membership
hinges on competence. CoPs are informal organizations, which is to say
they are not officially part of the organization where they spring up.

It seems to me that identifying and supporting existing CoPs is feasible.
It strikes me as much more difficult for the organization to take the lead
in initiating or starting up a Community of Practice. A CoP, by its very
nature, is part of the informal organization, not the formal organization,
and much of the "practice" around which people organize consists of
workarounds in relation to inadequate work methods and procedures handed
down from on high.

Does anyone know of any instances in which companies have successfully
initiated Communities of Practice? I've heard of a few but when I've
pursued them to learn more they evaporate.



Fred Nickols Distance Consulting "Assistance at A Distance" (609) 490-0095

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