Shawn Callahan has written a blog entry on remembering Communitie of practice principles. He says “One doesn’t implement communities of practice nor create them by management edict. Rather they require the right conditions to grow. Management’s role is to make it clear to potential community members that they support this new way of working. ” Though seemingly straightforward this leads to two key questions:
1. Communties of Practice are increasingly becoming the cornerstone many KM initiatives. Many consulting firms speak about “creating communities”. Most firms in turn (specifically huge distributed firms) do not spend time identifying existing informal networks but go on to define “strategically” important communities and “try” to derive value out of it. And not surprisingly many of these may fail. So does this mean that SNA is a necessary step before organizations embark on a community based knowledge initiative?
2. The second key issue is how do organizations educate managers to respect the organic nature of communties and not trample its free form?