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The practice of practice

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  • Denham Grey
    Having been a keen follower of CoPs for more than 5 years now, I can truthfully say we know very little about the practices that happen inside a CoP. Examples:
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 5, 2002
      Having been a keen follower of CoPs for more than 5 years now, I can
      truthfully say we know very little about the practices that happen
      inside a CoP. Examples:

      How exactly is knowledge created and tested?

      What templates work best for storing expertise?

      Which rituals / systems are most effective for peripheral
      participation?

      What exact role does language & relationship play in knowledge
      sharing?

      How do communities of practice create and maintain their unique
      worldviews?

      What is an effective method to reify abstractions, surface concepts
      and maintain key distinctions?

      What is the 'best' method & medium for CoPs to share with the outside?

      Which interventions work to keep CoPs 'alive', active and full of
      energy?

      On this list and elsewhere in the literature we hear a lot about
      policies, ROI, charters, selling, benefits and evangelizing the CoP
      paradigm - but what do we really know about stewarding knowledge,
      maintaining trust, creating new knowledge within the CoP, and CoP to
      CoP dynamics?

      Hey just asking!
    • Fred Nickols
      ... Fred Nickols (yours truly) jumps in and observes: Questions have many purposes, only one of which is to actually solicit answers. I take Denham s questions
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 6, 2002
        Denham Grey poses a number of questions:

        >Having been a keen follower of CoPs for more than 5 years now, I can
        >truthfully say we know very little about the practices that happen
        >inside a CoP. Examples:
        >
        >How exactly is knowledge created and tested?
        >
        >What templates work best for storing expertise?
        >
        >Which rituals / systems are most effective for peripheral
        >participation?
        >
        >What exact role does language & relationship play in knowledge
        >sharing?
        >
        >How do communities of practice create and maintain their unique
        >worldviews?
        >
        >What is an effective method to reify abstractions, surface concepts
        >and maintain key distinctions?
        >
        >What is the 'best' method & medium for CoPs to share with the outside?
        >
        >Which interventions work to keep CoPs 'alive', active and full of
        >energy?
        >
        >On this list and elsewhere in the literature we hear a lot about
        >policies, ROI, charters, selling, benefits and evangelizing the CoP
        >paradigm - but what do we really know about stewarding knowledge,
        >maintaining trust, creating new knowledge within the CoP, and CoP to
        >CoP dynamics?

        Denham closes with:

        >Hey just asking!

        Hans-Peter Korn responds:

        >After many of such questions you wrote:
        >
        > > Hey just asking!
        >
        >So, am I right: you don't request answers, you are just asking?
        >
        >If "yes": What's your benefit to post questions without requesting answers?

        Fred Nickols (yours truly) jumps in and observes:

        Questions have many purposes, only one of which is to actually solicit
        answers. I take Denham's questions as meant to stimulate thought and
        discussion, perhaps debate and even disagreement. Taken at face value, I
        agree with his basic assertion; namely, that we don't have solid answers to
        the questions he poses. Moreover, I suspect one reason we don't is that
        the move to exploit and commercialize CoPs came right on the heels of the
        identification of CoPs, well before they could possibly have been studied
        in great detail, their inner workings figured out, and relevant tools and
        techniques developed and refined to high degree of reliability. As usual,
        the "swells who run the show" made it clear that they wanted CoPs because
        CoPs were "in" and the marketplace was quick to respond.

        I'm tempted to say, "Too bad," but I won't because I also happen to believe
        that CoPs are alive and well and will continue to be that way, with new
        ones springing up and old ones dying off. Why? Because they are a natural
        response on the part of people in a particular kind of social setting,
        specifically, a community of practice. As long as there are organizations,
        as long as there is human endeavor that requires cooperative, collaborative
        effort, as long as human beings retain their need to socialize in, at and
        around their work and workplace, there will be CoPs and the contributions
        they make to organized, collective endeavor will continue to be noticed,
        studied and sought after. And, of course, attempts to exploit them and
        what is known about them will continue also.

        I do have an answer for Denham and it takes the form of a question: So what?

        Regards,

        Fred Nickols
        Consultant
        nickols@...
        www.nickols.us
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