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Communities of Practice (COP)
Connection of COP to Knowledge Management 8 IV.Table of Content Serial no: 1. Introduction Topic: Page No: 3 2. Importance of teamwork for Knowledge Management II. Sharing ideas to the success of KM 5 5 7 III. Communities of Practices 4 3. Communities of practice and knowledge management I. References 12 2|P ag e . How characteristics of COP help to bring success to KM practices 9 4. Conclusion 11 5.
A community of practice is thus different from a community of interest or a geographical community. For this reason. are an investment in the organization's future.Introduction Communities of practice are everywhere. More important. We are core members of some and we belong to others more peripherally. or we may just come to rehearsals to hang around with the group. Some have a name. some don't. especially in areas. Much of what people do in organizations occurs in the context of Communities of Practice. And that means they require a minimal investment on the part of the organization. they are a natural part of organizational life. then. at home. most of us are familiar with the experience of belonging to a community of practice. We all belong to a number of them±at work. and support COPs. There is where best practices and innovations first emerge and where the solutions to shared problems are first identified. We may be a member of a band. promote. Members of a community are informally bound by what they do together±from engaging in lunchtime discussions to solving difficult problems±and by what they have learned through their mutual engagement in these activities. or we may just stay in touch to keep informed about developments in the field. not a quick fix to be applied for the sake of short-term gain. many companies are determined to encourage. neither of which implies a shared practice. operational or in the eyes of the customer). Whatever forms our participation takes. they can't be mandated or managed in a heavy-handed way. It takes time for COPs to emerge. in our hobbies. COPs. at university. Most important many will exist whether or not management chooses to encourage and support them. Or we may have just joined a community and are still trying to find our place in it. processes and functions where an edge in performance provides a competitive advantage (whether it be financial. to flourish and to become productive. We may lead a group of consultants who specialize in telecommunication strategies. 3|P ag e .
Although many authors assert that communities of practice create organizational value. and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally (Lave & Wenger 1991). We argue that the social capital resident in communities of practice leads to behavioral changes. which in turn positively influence business performance. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that the members learn from each other. such as within discussion boards and newsgroups. according to cognitive anthropologists Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger. a group of people who share an interest. this type of learning practice has existed for as long as people have been learning and sharing their experiences through storytelling. in a field setting. These dimensions include connections among practitioners who may or may not be co-located. To build an understanding of how communities of practice create organizational value. we suggest thinking of a community as an engine for the development of social capital. there has been relatively little systematic study of the linkage between community outcomes and the underlying social mechanisms that are at work.Communities of practice (COP) A community of practice (COP) is. The group can evolve naturally because of the members' common interest in a particular domain or area. Groups whose members regularly engage in sharing and learning. based on common interests² can improve organizational performance. This approach views learning as an act of membership in a ³community of practice. relationships that build a sense of trust and mutual obligation. on a factory floor. 4|P ag e . and/or a profession. a craft. or elsewhere in the environment. While Lave and Wenger coined the term in the 1990s. We identify four specific performance outcomes associated with the communities of practice we studied and link these outcomes to the basic dimensions of social capital. Our conclusions are based on a study of seven organizations where communities of practice are acknowledged to be creating value. or in real life. and a common language and context that can be shared by community members.´ The theory seeks to understand both the structure of communities and how learning occurs in them. or it can be created specifically with the goal of gaining knowledge related to their field. such as in a lunchroom at work. COPs can exist online.
but properly integrated teamwork. 5|P ag e . The main reason is that considering the vastness and the very nature of the work that KM department engages in. for knowledge management. it is not possible for any one individual to even think of taking the entire load upon his own shoulders. in other words. is considered a rich potential source of helpful information in the form of actual experiences. sharing. and data mining" (Thomas. documents. a community of practice is one source of content and context that if codified. "knowledge embedded within individuals". Importance of teamwork for Knowledge Management: What works in KM is reaching its goals is not an individual. and retrieving information. collectively and individually. evoking notions of databases.Communities of practice and Knowledge management Wasko and Faraj (2000) describe three kinds of knowledge: "knowledge as object". Tacit knowledge is considered to be those valuable context-based experiences that cannot easily be captured. also (Hildreth & Kimble 2002). Because knowledge management is seen "primarily as a problem of capturing. and "knowledge embedded in a community". documented and archived can be accessed for later use. Kellogg & Erickson 2001). Thus. organizing. Communities of Practice have become associated with finding. best practices. as well as making explicit "expertise". transferring. and archiving knowledge. or tacit knowledge. the community of practice. codified and stored (Davenport & Prusak 2000). query languages.
Reduction of Risk When the task at hand is executed with the maximum possible efficiency. The significance of the united effort is that the business organization that is concerned.Teamwork can be simply defined. he can optimize the quality of the work that he does. If everyone does their job well. Everyone has their own unique role. thereby ensuring a high quality and timely output. The best advantage of teamwork in business is that the burden of failure is borne by all the members of the team and it does not fall on the shoulders of just one person. A fair work distribution ensures that every person or every working unit.A. That is. functions like a single person. executes any task at hand. . then it increases what the team can accomplish. To succeed at the task in hand everyone involved needs to combine their efforts. "as a state of unity achieved within a group of people working for a specific economic benefit. and can also work with the maximum possible efficiency. with the best possible efficiency. We should just remember T.E. Subordination of Personal Interest to Organizational Interest One of the biggest advantages of teamwork is that personal interest is subordinate to organizational interest. Some of the genuine advantages of teamwork have been discussed below. between the members of a partnership that form a business or a joint venture or a private limited company." The phenomenon of teamwork in business is basically used to define the coordination and cooperation. The following advantages of teamwork are not only applicable for KM department but they can also be noticed in departments that function with the help of united efforts. there is a reduction in risk. Specialization in Work Another very good advantage of teamwork in business is that a person is able to specialize in one specific field. United Effort Teamwork in any business ensures that the task at hand is executed with the help of a united effort. This ensures a high quality output from all individuals and the whole team. Teamwork is something that must be a high priority and given constant attention. but each person's individual role must be recognized and appreciated. 6|P ag e . Division of Work Teamwork ensures that there is an equal and fair distribution of work within the organization. This ensures that all the team members put in the maximum possible efforts into their work.M. thereby enhancing the quality of the operations. This teamwork has to be recognized by everyone and know that great things can happen if individuals master the fundamentals and work together as one unit.Together Everyone Achieves More! There are numerous advantages of teamwork in knowledge management.
For this it is important to make knowledge sharing a distributive system rather than a centralized system. knowledge etc. knowledge sharing is very attractive and many business organizations would prefer to be associated with it. in organization greatly influence on the success of knowledge management in an organization. rapid growth in information technology. fear of IT. is that there is unification of the merits of the team members. There is no universal definition of knowledge management. lack of understanding the power of knowledge management. with the maximum possible efficiency. But knowledge sharing implementation is not easy. There are many barriers in knowledge sharing implementations such as organization culture. Knowledge sharing is a systematic process for creating. The goodwill. also. Above all knowledge management implementation requires sound strategy. Knowledge management means different things to different people. by default. It also requires a platform where the interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge can take place. As a concept. 7|P ag e . learning. the business organization. in fact. The primary "tools" applied in the practice of knowledge management is (a) Organizational Dynamics (b) Process Engineering and (c) Technology. High Quality Output Teamwork. increase in knowledge based work and competition pressure the concept of knowledge management has gained momentum in recent years. and on the whole. This ensures that the clients of the company are bound to come back to your organization with a new project or contract. Microsoft explains it as a discipline that treats intellectual capital as managed assets. immaturity of industry.Timely Completion Teamwork is one of the best ways to ensure the timely completion of any work. Due to globalization of economy. This knowledge can be inside the employees' minds or stored in paper form in filing cabinets and/or stored in electronic form. does not depict any demerit. as a team. increases the goodwill and reputation of a business. sharing and using knowledge and experience to achieve organizational goal. Goodwill and Reputation Teamwork. is a tangible asset of any business that plays a highly instrumental role in bringing in more customers and public trust. Unification of Merits The indirect advantage of an effective teamwork. synthesizing. views. It also reflects the sincerity of the team members. Sharing ideas to the success of KM: Sharing of ideas. ensures high quality output that makes the client happy. acquiring. etc.
An effective idea sharing program should help a company do one or more of the following: 1. 5. 9. Key characteristics of knowledge management are a willingness to share knowledge and experience with others or a system whereby knowledge can be made accessible to all. Foster innovation by encouraging the free flow of ideas. Enhance employee retention rates by recognizing the value of employee's knowledge and rewarding them for it. in their personal and work lives. In organizations that support knowledge management. 3. 7. Help in understanding markets and customers. increase skill level or improve work performance. Also key is a willingness to use personal knowledge and skills to enhance organizational knowledge and skills. a lack of human interaction results in a lack of the richness that humans can provide through subjectivity. 8. knowledge and experiences. Although software and tools are often used to ³manage´ knowledge. Connection of COP to Knowledge Management: Knowledge management is the concept of storing and retrieving information that can be shared with individuals to provide assistance. Improve customer service by streamlining response time. 2. Building competencies. 4. seek advice and guidance from experts and historical information. Streamline operations and reduce costs by eliminating redundant or unnecessary processes. Knowledge management is practiced everywhere that individuals. Development of vision and strategies. 6. Boost revenues by getting products and services to market faster. such knowledge is used to make 8|P ag e . and skill development tools are shared. Development of product and services.
whereby the knowledge is shared. The characteristics of such communities of practice vary. It is a formal means of sharing guidance and knowledge. given value and meaning through its relation to a context. as well as practical application and experience. Some communities of practice are quite formal in organization. knowledge management used correctly is cyclical and feeds into itself. How characteristics of COP help to bring success to KM practices: The characteristics of cop can be very much helpful to bring success to knowledge management practices within the organization. three elements are crucial in distinguishing a community of practice from other groups and communities: 9|P ag e . In looking at successful knowledge management. Communities of practice cannot exist without knowledge management. Some have names.decisions and enhance strategic planning and thinking. many do not. The relationship between communities of practice and knowledge management is one of interconnectedness. members are brought together by joining in common activities and by 'what they have learned through their mutual engagement in these activities' (Wenger 1998). Individuals gather information they need to perform well in their jobs. this newfound knowledge is placed back into the system when they share it with others. However. Most importantly. By definition. through new knowledge they create value and learn from what they create. and finally. The characteristics of communities of practice According to Etienne Wenger. the community of practice is a perfect tool for both sharing the knowledge and returning it into the organizational system through the sharing of the knowledge with others. and then placed back into the system when shared with others. a community of practice is a tool through which knowledge management takes place. others are very fluid and informal. a community of practice is different from a community of interest or a geographical community in that it involves a shared practice. In this respect.
Having the same job or the same title does not make for a community of practice unless members interact and learn together. for instance. (You could belong to the same network as someone and never know it. and share information. tools. they do not form a community of practice. in the course of all these conversations. The practice: A community of practice is not merely a community of interest--people who like certain kinds of movies. but it does not in itself make for a community of practice. and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people. used to meet in cafes and studios to discuss the style of painting they were inventing together. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest. A youth gang may have developed all sorts of ways of dealing with their domain: surviving on the street and maintaining some kind of identity they can live with. The community: In pursuing their interest in their domain. stories.1. Still. 10 | P a g e . even though few people outside the group may value or even recognize their expertise. 2. The Impressionists. A website in itself is not a community of practice. The development of a shared practice may be more or less self-conscious. The domain: A community of practice is not merely a club of friends or a network of connections between people. 3. they have developed a set of stories and cases that have become a shared repertoire for their practice. The claims processors in a large insurance company or students in American high schools may have much in common. By contrast. nurses who meet regularly for lunch in a hospital cafeteria may not realize that their lunch discussions are one of their main sources of knowledge about how to care for patients.) The domain is not necessarily something recognized as ³expertise´ outside the community. They value their collective competence and learn from each other. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences. But members of a community of practice do not necessarily work together on a daily basis. yet unless they interact and learn together. members engage in joint activities and discussions. Membership therefore implies a commitment to the domain. This takes time and sustained interaction. These interactions were essential to making them a community of practice even though they often painted alone. for instance. help each other. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. The ³windshield wipers´ engineers at an auto manufacturer make a concerted effort to collect and document the tricks and lessons they have learned into a knowledge base. A good conversation with a stranger on an airplane may give you all sorts of interesting insights. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. ways of addressing recurring problems²in short a shared practice.
It has now become the foundation of a perspective on knowing and learning that informs efforts to create learning systems in various sectors and at various levels of scale. In fact. learning in a community of practice is not limited to novices. cities. at school.Conclusion: Communities of practice have been around for as long as human beings have learned together. They are a familiar experience. In some we are core members. at work. At home. a number of them usually. government. and civic life. to single organizations. From humble beginnings in apprenticeship studies. we all belong to communities of practice. And of course. but studies of apprenticeship reveal a more complex set of social relationships through which learning takes place mostly with journeymen and more advanced apprentices. but the origin and primary use of the concept has been in learning theory. regions. partnerships. Once the concept was articulated. communities of practice are everywhere. and perceive the structures defined by engagement in practice and the informal learning that comes with it. in our hobbies. 11 | P a g e . development projects. even when no formal apprenticeship system existed. it becomes a perspective that can help us understand our world better. from local communities. The term community of practice was coined to refer to the community that acts as a living curriculum for the apprentice. professional associations. classrooms. so familiar perhaps that it often escapes our attention. The concept of community of practice is influencing theory and practice in many domains. organizational design. we started to see these communities everywhere. education. The concept of community of practice has found a number of practical applications in business. or nations. In particular. And we travel through numerous communities over the course of our lives. In many we are merely peripheral. Social scientists have used versions of the concept of community of practice for a variety of analytical purposes. The practice of a community is dynamic and involves learning on the part of everyone. and the entire world. Anthropologist Jean Lave and I coined the term while studying apprenticeship as a learning model. the concept was grabbed by businesses interested in knowledge management and has progressively found its way into other sectors. People usually think of apprenticeship as a relationship between a student and a master. it allows us to see past more obvious formal structures such as organizations. Yet when it is given a name and brought into focus.
´ Fast Company (November 1995). Learning is Social.´ Organization Science (February 1991).com 12 | P a g e .tfriend.com/online/01/people. 2.uio. http://www.no/~oleg/newsletter/practice.co-I-l. ³Organizational Learning and Communities of Practice: Toward a Unified View of Working. Wenger E. ³Communities of Practice: The Organizational Frontier. 5.S. 6. Meaning and Identity. Available on the web at: http://www. http://www.References: Articles & Papers: 1. Communities of Practice. and Gray E.shtml. Brown J. (March 1997). Web Sites: 1. S.fastcompany.html. Sharp J.com/coil/knowledge-garden/cop/ 2. ³Communities of Practice. Training is Irrelevant?´ Training Magazine (February 1997).html. 4. Learning.com/cop-lit. ³The People Are the Company. and Snyder W. Available on the web at: http://www. Available on the web at: http://www. Stamps D.htm. Available on the web at: http://www. Book: Wenger E. Cambridge University Press (1998).´ Harvard Business Review (Jan-Feb 2000).co-i-l/coil/knowledge-garden/cop/learnsoc. ³Communities of Practice: A Review of the Literature.brint. Learning and Innovation.
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