The third title in the Knowledge Services Series

Stan Garfield


Originally published Oct 7, 2020

My third book as sole author was published on September 7, 2020 and is available in multiple formats. My first two books, and other books in which I contributed a chapter, are also available. And you can visit my Amazon author page.



Review by Madanmohan Rao



Ross Dawson’s Virtual Excellence Episode 21: Excellence in Community Management

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Vision and Benefits for Communities and Knowledge Services
  • Chapter 2: Ten Principles for Communities
  • Chapter 3: Creating, Building, and Sustaining Communities
  • Chapter 4: Types of Communities
  • Chapter 5: Use Cases for Communities
  • Chapter 6: The Community Creation Process
  • Chapter 7: Preventing Redundant Communities
  • Chapter 8: The Role of the Communities Program Manager
  • Chapter 9: The Role of the Community Manager
  • Chapter 10: Community Goals, Measurements, and Incentives
  • Chapter 11: The 90–9–1 Rule of Thumb for Community Participation
  • Chapter 12: Culture and Communities
  • Chapter 13: Tools for Communities
  • Chapter 14: Examples of Communities
  • Chapter 15: 20 Pitfalls to Avoid
  • Appendix: Resources for Learning More About Communities


For my dear, late parents.

  • My mother, Amy Louise Nusbaum Garfield (born June 13, 1922 and died May 5, 2013), was the first woman to serve in the prestigious role of Community Manager while attending Antioch College.
  • My father, Sol Louis Garfield (born January 8, 1918 and died August 14, 2004), was the co-editor, with Allen E. Bergin, of Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change, a landmark textbook in clinical psychology.


I would like to thank Guy St. Clair for his encouragement and for including this book in the Knowledge Services series for which he is the editor. Thanks to John Ryan for doing a great job editing the book.

I want to acknowledge those who worked with me on knowledge services and communities at Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq, and Hewlett-Packard: Patti Anklam, Nancy Settle-Murphy, Max Bromley, Earle Craigie, John Tohline, Andrew Gent, Bruce Karney, Bernard Hennecker, Marcus Funke, Birgit Gobi, and Fred Bals. And at Deloitte: Lee Romero, Curtis Conley, Ray Sims, Adriaan Jooste, and John Hagel. I want to especially thank Lee Romero for his research, analysis, writing, presenting, and collaboration.

I very much appreciate those quoted in this book: Richard McDermott, George Santayana, Lew Platt, Etienne Wenger-Trayner, Richard Millington, Arthur “Red” Motley, Mukund Mohan, Kai Riemer, Jan Finke, Dirk Hovorka, Arthur Shelley, Shawn Callahan, David Smith, Matt Moore, Lee Romero, Jakob Nielsen, Bradley Carron-Arthur, John Cunningham, Kathleen Griffiths, Nancy Dixon, Sue Hanley, Eric Ziegler, Bruce Karney, and Seth Godin.

Thanks to Bruce Karney, Alice MacGillivray, Tony Moore, Fred Nickols, Chris Riemer, Lee Romero, Reed Stuedemann, and Luis Suarez for their comments and suggestions used in Chapter 2.

Many thanks to those who have helped me launch and manage communities: Raj Datta, Sue Hanley, Sanjay Swarup, Steve Wieneke, Karla Phlypo, Steve Kaukonen, Lee Romero, Susan Ostreicher, Linda Hummel, Kate Pugh, Patti Anklam, and John Hovell.

And a final word of thanks to my family for their love and support: my wife, Barb Hayes; our children and their spouses, Roger and Cristi Garfield, Tracy and Matt Kahlscheuer, and Kathy Garfield; and my siblings and their spouses, Ann and David Olszewski, Joan Garfield and Michael Luxenberg, and David Garfield.


Community management has become important in knowledge services programs, customer relations, brand advocacy, and social media strategy. The purpose of this book is to help knowledge services leaders launch and lead communities programs as part of their initiatives, to help community managers do their jobs successfully, and to provide a deep understanding of the fundamental concepts of communities of practice.

Knowledge services is an approach that streamlines managing an organization’s intellectual capital by converging information management, knowledge management, and strategic learning into a single enterprise-wide discipline. Knowledge strategists put the people affected by knowledge services and the knowledge strategy first. This people-focused approach to knowledge services focuses on the people and how they collaborate to share knowledge.

Communities are fundamental to a knowledge services approach: they engage people to deliver value to the organization. Communities enable a wide variety of knowledge services activities, including gathering and disseminating content, asking and answering questions, solving problems, finding experts, transferring knowledge and learning about a subject.

This book provides an in-depth tutorial on how to make communities work to really improve business performance. It covers principles and proven practices that ensure community success and longevity, provides tips and techniques for leading communities and communities programs that the reader can apply immediately, looks at different types of communities and the technologies that support them, and illustrates by sharing a number of real-world examples of communities in practice.

Communities are groups of people who share an interest, a specialty, a role, a concern, a set of problems, or a passion for a specific topic. Community members deepen their understanding by interacting on an ongoing basis, asking and answering questions, sharing their knowledge, reusing good ideas, and solving problems for one another.

According to Richard McDermott, healthy communities have a driving purpose, clear activities, a sense of accomplishment, and high management expectations. The heart of a community of practice includes peer-to-peer relationships, responsibility for stewarding a body of knowledge, membership which crosses boundaries, and room for dealing with whatever comes up.

Communities connect people with related interests so that they can share with one another, innovate, reuse each other’s ideas, collaborate, and learn together. Starting a community is an excellent first step in launching a knowledge services initiative and can be used as a building block for more elaborate functionality.

Communities enable knowledge to flow between people. Community members share new ideas, lessons learned, proven practices, insights, and practical suggestions. The community can innovate through brainstorming, building on each other’s ideas, and keeping informed on emerging developments. Reusing solutions is enabled through asking and answering questions, applying shared insights, and retrieving posted material. Members collaborate through threaded discussions, conversations, and interactions. And they learn from other members of the community; from invited guest speakers about successes, failures, case studies, and new trends; and through mentoring.

One of the keys to the success for any community is effective community management. Community management is leading a community of practice so that it achieves its objectives, it remains active, its members benefit from participating in it, and its members adhere to its published code of conduct.

This book is based on my experience in managing communities, leading communities programs, and leading knowledge services for over 20 years. It is a practical guide, and you can start applying its lessons immediately. It can be used by a wide range of knowledge services and communities of practice professionals. These include knowledge managers, knowledge management program leaders, knowledge services leaders, knowledge services evangelists, community managers, community evangelists, communities program managers, collaboration program managers, collaboration evangelists, Enterprise Social Network (ESN) administrators, social business leaders, social media strategists, brand specialists, and anyone providing instruction or advice to these people.


  • “This handbook includes a wealth of knowledge, expertly curated by Stan based on his decades of experience as a knowledge services program leader.” — Rachel Happe, Principal and Co-Founder, The Community Roundtable
  • “Stan Garfield is one of the most generous and insightful thought leaders in KM. Anything he has to say about communities of practice is worth heeding.” — Carla O’Dell, Chairman, APQC and Co-Author of If Only We Knew What We Know
  • “The words community and collaboration get bandied around a lot in business but few who use them really know what they mean. Stan does. The ability to work together to solve the world’s pressing problems has never been more important. Learning how to do this well seems like a good idea.” — Euan Semple, Former Director of Knowledge Management Solutions, BBC and Author of Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do
  • “Stan Garfield has written a complete and comprehensive book for community management. He offers outstanding proven and practical advice for community leaders and members — and the organizations that sponsor them. He provides both a clear vision and demonstrable benefits for communities at any stage in their lifecycle journey as well as many real-world examples. I love how he explains the differences between communities and teams. This book is a must-read for anyone planning or managing communities of practice! There is just so much wisdom and practical advice in here! Even though I’ve been managing and advising communities for years, it’s really helpful to see tips and advice organized in a practical way in a comprehensive reference manual.” — Susan Hanley, President, LLC and Co-Author of Essential SharePoint
  • “KM now has a 10-year history of successfully using communities of practice to share knowledge within organizations. Stan has been a leader in that effort and has pulled together what he has learned about every aspect of communities from how to get started to what a leader needs to do. He has brought all that experience together with lots of examples and practical help.” — Nancy Dixon, Principal and Founder, Common Knowledge Associates and Author of Common Knowledge
  • “Stan Garfield has created a compendium of community tips, tricks, advice, frameworks and pearls of wisdom gathered working with many communities for many years and pulled it all together in his Handbook of Community Management. Open any page and there is something clear, concrete and actionable. Even if you don’t have time to read a whole book, any page will add value to your efforts!” — Nancy White, Founder, Full Circle Associates, Co-Author of Digital Habitats
  • “Stan Garfield is one of KM’s most experienced and most generous practitioners. He is a gifted encyclopedist of the discipline, and has worked for decades making KM resources and guides freely available to colleagues. He doesn’t just believe in sharing, he also believes in the power of networks, and is always ready to point enquirers to other people’s work. He also happens to be the leader of the most successful and enduring online KM community of practice, SIKM Leaders Community. All of these qualities shine through in this, his latest book: short, concise and accessible chapters, beautifully organized, giving succinct and helpful advice from a lifetime’s experience in an area that is clearly close to his heart: communities of practice.” — Patrick Lambe, Founding Partner, Straits Knowledge and Author of Organising Knowledge
  • “Communities of practice are one of the fundamental building blocks of Knowledge Management. This handbook gives you everything you need to set up and run large online communities, for the benefit of the business and of the community members themselves.” — Nick Milton, Director and Vice President, Knoco Ltd and Co-Author of The Knowledge Manager’s Handbook
  • “As a veteran community leader, member, and researcher, I applaud Stan Garfield’s sage advice and rich narratives. Anyone funding, designing or reinvigorating a community can accelerate their impact and de-risk their program through reading this book. This is a wonderful resource, and a gift to community managers.” — Katrina Pugh, President. AlignConsulting and Author of Sharing Hidden Know-How
  • “Stan Garfield is very well known to the global knowledge community as both a practitioner of knowledge management projects and a theorist and writer on the subject. This is a rare combination, and in his new book he displays both of his perspectives very well, making this book essential for all those interested in this most interesting topic.” — the late Larry Prusak, Former Executive Director, IBM Institute for Knowledge Management and Co-Author of Working Knowledge
  • “Stan has created and curated a rich resource for community facilitators and knowledge managers at all levels of experience. A deep goldmine of principles, examples, stories and lived experience from knowledge management’s knowledge manager!” — Chris Collison, Owner and Director, Knowledgeable Ltd and Co-Author of The KM Cookbook
  • “It’s a fantastic reference source of people, websites and resources.” — Jonathan Norman, Knowledge Hub Manager, The Major Projects Association
  • “This book from Stan Garfield is an excellent resource, not just for knowledge and community managers, but for professionals in general. I strongly recommend acquiring a copy for your personal library and applying the insights to your professional practice.” — Arthur Shelley, Founder and CEO, Intelligent Answers and Author of KNOWledge SUCCESSion



Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager