Communities of Practice

In Etienne Wenger’s Communities of Practice: A Brief Introduction, Etienne Wenger introduced and overviewed the concept of communities of practice. Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endevator. The concept of “communities of practice” has been a useful perspective for those observing the lesson on knowing and learning. Learning can be the reason the community comes together or an incidental outcome of member’s interactions. The community of practice typically has a domain (shared common interest), the community (engaging in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information), and the practice (share a practice through a repertoire of resources). The community of practice can engage in problem solving, requesting information, seeking experience, reusing assets, coordination and synergy, discussing developments, documentation projects, visits, mapping knowledge and identifying gaps. The concept can be seen being applied in organizations, government, education, associations, social sector, international development and even the web. In short, one can find communities of practice everywhere. In this age of technology and wireless communication, communities of practice can easily develop in multiple mediums and quickly.

In this week’s case of Katzenbach partners, the consultancy firm already had a community of practice but needed to organize their information and knowledge in a new fashion since the knowledge that was being developed was not accessible to everyone and extremely disorganized. In order to understand what needed to change in their practice of knowledge keeping, the knowledge management teamed observed the common patterns of knowledge management in the firm and then identified goals that they wanted to incorporate into HUB+. The consultancy firm observed that they wanted a highly interpersonal knowledge management system that reflected their current style, flexibility, openness, rule agnostic, intuitive and personal system. By developing an intuitive system with an interactive interface, support roles and responsibilities and new project life cycle management standards, Katzenbach partners was able to re-mold their community of practice into an internet experience that reflect the growing and changing dynamics of their firm. The case, when combined with Wegner’s article on community of practice, demonstrated that knowledge management needs to adapt and change to conform to a growing community of practice that has new demands and challenges ahead.

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