E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Communities of Practice and Their Business Value

Over the last couple of days I have been exchanging a number of different e-mails with one of the folks over at actKM that I have been following for quite some time now, and who is currently running KM Institute: Douglas Weidner. He just recently ventured into creating his own KM weblog over at ITtoolbox, too! We actually connected directly just a few days ago through another fellow KMer and colleague, Swan, and it already feels like we know each other for some time already. Anyway, in one of the e-mail exchanges Douglas actually shared with one a link to a web site there you would be able to watch a very interesting interview that details the true business value of Communities of Practice (a.k.a. CoPs)

Indeed, over at The World Bank there is a vidcast of Ludovic Shirima interviewing Frannie Lautier around the topic of the business value that the PAC (Poverty Analysis Community of Practice) community has been providing to the entire organisation all along as a place for people to hang out online and share knowledge and collaborate with one another. The interview lasts for about 14 minutes and it is one of those must-watch references that I would recommend any time to anyone out there who may be rather skeptical about the business value of communities, and CoPs, in particular.

Frannie gets to some of the key elements that make CoPs successful as organisms that allow people to get together in an informal way and share information much more willingly than through other traditional means put in place for knowledge sharing. It is all in the informal networks indeed and this particular interview just clearly shows that communities are the way to go. Every KM program should have a community program if they would want to succeed.

You can find the link to the Poverty Analysis Community over here to see how some of the action is taking place but if you really want to be sold out on the concept and adoption of CoPs in the enterprise world, then I would strongly suggest you watch that videocast of 14 minutes because you would be able to identify some of the different success factors from communities for every single type of business. I could detail over here some of the major highlights from the interview but since it is Friday and you can probably watch better than read at this point in time I am not going to. I will leave it up to you to head over there and read on! You will see why the title of it just fits in quite nicely: PAC One of the Best Example of the Communities of Practice (CoPs) at the World Bank.

(Thanks, Douglas, for sharing the link ! Good stuff !)

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  1. Hi Joitske! Thanks a lot for the feedback comments and for the linking the weblog posts. Terrific stuff. I must say that when I was writing the weblog post I was thinking about you and your weblog as someone who would be interested in the topic overall and I am surely glad that you have made that connection between both weblog posts because your points are always so spot on ! Like, for instance, this particular quote:

    “The whole approach of communities of practice is based on the idea that people get knowledge around the coffee machine, and hence CoPs work to make learning easy and flexible.The thematic groups (the CoPs in the World Bank) deal with immediately relevant and available knowledge”

    I surely agree with you 100%. That is what communities are all about. People are social beings and as such they always have a tendency to want to connect to people than with resources so having CoPs in every single KM program is a healthy way to keep those connections and networks up and running. Certainly worth while from the perspective that people are more willing to share with others their knowledge than to store it elsewhere and this videocast just proves that point of how you can have a virtual CoP becoming a fundamental key resource for a business in order to help spark different conversations and collaboration between community members.

    Thanks again for the feedback !

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