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RE: [cp] Digest Number 170 (RE: dynamics of sharing)

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  • John D. Smith
    Fred (and all), Thanks for a long and thoughtful post! Let me say that as far as this witness is concerned, you ARE seen as one of the sharers. (A
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 22, 2000
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      Fred (and all),

      Thanks for a long and thoughtful post! Let me say that as far as this
      witness is concerned, you ARE seen as one of the sharers. (A fundamental
      accounting role that goes on in a community, by the way.)

      Warning: this posting is written after several dog-walks, so I may be just
      saying what's on my mind rather than responding to YOU!

      * In fact we DO design incentives for sharing (or not). Many of our actions
      and policies (whether in a corporate or other social setting) have an impact
      on sharing. But so much of this design is unconscious and unintentional.
      It would be a huge step if we just saw clearly how we shape incentives to
      share knowledge in the course of a day.

      * I loved your admittedly cynical comment about how "we spend so much time
      and energy trying to get other people to give us what we think we want".
      Indeed.

      * I agree that the "glue person" role is really important. But I wonder
      whether there aren't several different roles involved in a healthy
      community. I'm not about to claim that com-prac is a healthy community (by
      any stretch of imagination), but even here there are different voices that
      add richness and depth to the conversation. For example, your comment
      several MONTHS ago about communities of practice that get blasted away by
      process re-engineering (and whimper all the way to the chopping block) still
      irritates me when I think of it. (I guess that TO ME it sounded so flip and
      condescending toward human suffering in the workplace.) But I think that
      having someone like you around here to stir the pot with a challenging
      remark is essential. (In earlier version of the CoP workshop with Etienne
      we tried 4 or 5 different leadership roles: keeper of the questions, keeper
      of the insights, keeper of the community, keeper of the summaries, keeper of
      I forget what else. All of these were glue-type functions.)

      * Finally, I'm very concerned about your statement:

      Finally, I grow increasingly skeptical
      of the probability that this list
      will add in any significant way to our
      meagre store of knowledge regarding
      the nature and value of communities of practice.

      Could you say more about that?

      One thing that astounds me about com-prac is how much GOOD but half-baked
      stuff is thrown out and never really discussed. I myself don't take the
      time to reply, even when a posting generates a lot of reflection as I walk
      my dog around the block.

      For those who are celebrating holidays at this time of the year, good cheer!
      And to everyone, may the communities that surround you generate warmth,
      insight, and connection.

      John

      --*
      --* John D. Smith, 503.963.8229, 2025 SE Elliott Ave, Portland OR 97214-5339
      --* http://www.teleport.com/~smithjd ICQ: 72789757 cell: 503-975-7799
      --* Winter 2001 CoP workshop starts Feb 5: http://www.ewenger.com/edu/
      --* "There are people that never learn because they understand everything
      --* too quickly." -- Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
    • nickols@att.net
      ... Sure. I m not yet convinced that this (or any other list for that matter) really qualifies as a true community of practice (CoP). I m not saying that it
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 26, 2000
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        "John D. Smith" <smithjd@t...> wrote:
        > * Finally, I'm very concerned about your statement:
        >
        > Finally, I grow increasingly skeptical
        > of the probability that this list
        > will add in any significant way to our
        > meagre store of knowledge regarding
        > the nature and value of communities of practice.
        >
        > Could you say more about that?

        Sure. I'm not yet convinced that this (or any other list for that
        matter) really qualifies as a true community of practice (CoP). I'm
        not saying that it isn't, mind you, but I'm not yet convinced that it
        is. Nor do I see a lot of posts from folks who are part of a CoP in
        the workplace or even studying a CoP in the workplace. Moreover, I'm
        also concerned that by formalizing and drawing attention to CoPs that
        we will wind up destroying them. It's akin to Polanyi's notion that
        by articulating (or at least trying to articulate) tacit knowledge
        that we destroy it in the process.

        Frankly, instead of studying our navels on this (or any other), I'd
        much prefer hearing (actually, reading) about folks' experiences in
        CoPs in the workplace -- the view from inside, so to speak. I'm also
        interested in what folks who are studying CoPs in the workplace are
        learning. I'm least interested in observations about the dynamics of
        this list as a CoP because, as stated above, I'm not sure it is one.

        In short, I think there's more to be learned from what's going on
        with CoPs in the workplace than in dissecting the dynamics of this
        list. Further, I'm less interested in what I view as "contrived"
        or "constructed" CoPs (i.e., those some consultant -- internal or
        external -- claims to have established and then, like the moving
        finger, having writ, moves on) than I am in lessons learned from
        studying CoPs au naturel as it were).

        I suppose I'm being picky and sticky and overly critical and close-
        minded and lots of other things but I'm also being honest. I have
        seen too many situations where clumsy managers, anxious for a quick
        hit, jump on board the latest bandwagon and do little more than
        bollix up the works. Yes, I'm a wee bit cynical but I'm also very,
        very practical and I tend to deal with what I'm up against, not what
        I'd like to be there.
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