Interesting subject for a research. I like the concept you developed. One of
your aims is to write guidelines for stimulation. I would like to evaluate
your variables in a reframed focus with your permission: "How to manage a
variety of communities?". Before the question how to stimulate is a question
"Should we do that?". In this light one of the first variables is to
classify the focus of a community and the expected results.
Lots of success,
From: Stefan de Bruijn [mailto:stefandebruijn@...
Sent: woensdag 15 november 2000 9:53
Subject: [cp] assessing cops
If you can spare the time, I would appreciate to get your feedback on
this concept of a model to assess cops in my organization. Do you
agree with this approach, or have you found other variables that have
a major impact on knowledge-sharing groups?
As a Dutch University student, I'm studying communities of practice
in a large research organization in South Africa. The aim of the
research is to determine what communities or other knowledge-sharing
groups already exist and to write guidelines for management on how to
stimulate communities of practice. Because the strategic units in the
organization tend to behave like silo's, the research is also focused
on inter-unit (inter-silo)CoPs, in order to improve inter-silo
knowledge sharing in the future.
At the moment, I'm trying to identify the knowledge sharing groups
within the organization and to classify them. Because I haven't found
a model that is suitable to assess cops, I constructed my own.
I have identified 6 variables that determine how succesful a
community of practice will be. I measure the variables by using a
questionnaire and interviewing the members. The variables are based
on what I have found in literature.
The variables I use are:
1) Focus on Practice: Some groups within the organization are not
focused on the practice of the members or on developing new
practices. The interest of the cop should apply to the daily work of
2) Sense of Community: Sense of community differs between groups.
Members of a successful CoP have a sense of belonging and identity
tied to the group. This determines their commitment to contribution.
If people do not trust each other, they will not share.
3) Coordination: A community of practice that is focused on sharing
knowledge (the target CoP in the research) should be coordinated.
Coordinator, publisher etc.. Some groups are well coordinated but
lack focus. Other groups are not well coordinated, but have a huge
potential for coordination.(mostly 'natural' cops). And of course,
some communities don't want to be coordinated.
4)Span of Units: Since the research focuses also on inter-silo
knowledge sharing, the number of units, over which the knowledge
sharing group spreads, is therefore taken into account.
5) IT support: How well is the community supported by IT in order to
share knowledge? Virtual communities depend on IT, natural CoPs can
do without (although it can improve the sharing).
6) Management Sponsorship, Intensive knowledge sharing cops cannot
do without sponsorship. They should get time, acknowledgement and a
bridge to the organization.
Reason for using these variables:
I will use the configurations to decide what elements of exisiting
knowledge-sharing groups have to be improved and stimulated by
management in order to optimise the sharing of knowledge within cops
between strategic units. The target CoPs for the research will have a
maximum score on all of the variables.
I'm not sure yet how to scale the variables. At the moment I'm
thinking about using three levels: low, medium, high.
The variables consist of subvariables. These subvariables are the
basis for the questions in the questionnaire. The amount of
subvariables that are present in the group, will determine the level
of the variable.
Do you think that these variables are suitable to assess CoPs? Please
let me know, I'm looking forward to get feedback.
By the way, John Smith, you asked for theses etc. I'm still in a very
turbulent phase, but if you want to know more, let me know.
Thanks and kind regards,
Stefan de Bruijn
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