More on CoPs, What Happened to KM, Social Bookmarking as a KM Strategy, Engaged KM

08-May-07 Archive of Weekly KM Blog by Stan Garfield

KM Question of the Week

Last week’s question was “We are looking to implement a more formal strategy and evaluation plan for communities of practice. What do you have in place?”

Here are three replies from members of the SIKM Leaders Community.

From Sanjay Swarup:

To add to comments made by Stan, here are some of my experiences at Ford Motor Company where I supported and managed 54 Communities of Practice (CoPs):

  1. For any CoP to survive/thrive, the role of an active executive sponsor is vital. Minimum monthly CoP health checks are a must, as is providing timely rewards and recognition, especially in the presence of peers of the CoP members.
  2. A community administrator/gatekeeper needs to be a person who is active in the community, well respected by community members, and considered a subject matter expert. Managers typically did not make good gatekeepers since they were overwhelmed by other responsibilities.
  3. A community focal point/contact at each site/location must also be active in the community and considered a subject matter expert.
  4. Establishing metrics in the knowledge input form is critical. Ideally, metrics should be quantitative; however, qualitative metrics are acceptable. A metrics input field needs to be mandatory.
  5. Some of the key reasons why I had to close down some CoPs:
  • The executive sponsor was inactive.
  • Users did not see the value of the knowledge being shared.
  • CoP usage was not integrated into the corporate procedures, and CoP performance metrics were not tied to individual performance goals.

From: Katrina Pugh, Worldwide Knowledge Management Consultant, Business Strategy and Knowledge Integration, Intel Solution Services

Stan, I agree with your comments — especially the regular meeting and tiers. Here are the BKMs (best known methods) we’ve generated over the last year of our CoP program:

  1. Requires role clarity for the community, and for community members and leaders. (Best in the form of a charter).
  2. Leadership and facilitation are keys. Need a networker between community meetings and team leads to represent stakeholders (e.g., one person from business unit, one person from geography).
  3. CoPs are considered effective and value-added only when they become self-managed by the practitioners (e.g., practitioners contribute to agenda, lead discussion topics and working groups).
  4. Need to establish a rapport explicitly, by using facilitation techniques and offline meetings or check-ins with participants. Expect to storm before you norm!
  5. Must have ground rules (e.g., meetings, forums, email).
  6. Need a method for new member on-boarding (e.g., what’s the CoP charter, how to get onto the workspace, when meetings take place, expectations of participants).
  7. Communities have a predictable lifecycle. Need to measure and continuously improve (e.g., measuring membership, participation in meetings, hits, documents shared, productivity of working groups).
  8. Use technology effectively — must be easy to integrate into life (e.g., effective use of workspace, threaded discussion, Live Meeting tapes, wikis).
  9. Community must get and give recognition (e.g., sponsors visible, participants publicly recognized, good or improved measures reported).

From Andrew Gent:

You may find this presentation interesting — it was given at this year’s IAI Summit by Andrew Hinton. The topic is “Architectures for Conversation: What Communities of Practice Can Mean for Information Architecture (IA).” The end of the presentation is a little off-topic — since it is specific to IA — but the lead-up is a fascinating perspective on communities, organic vs. hierarchical structures, etc. To those who have been involved in CoPs for a while, there is probably nothing earth-shattering here, but he covers the territory with a sense of panache that catches the audience’s attention and gets the message across to non-KMers.

Some excerpts:

  • “Conversation is the engine of knowledge” (pg 20)
  • “But the truth is, the looser organic network has always been where Knowledge & Innovation occur” (pg 33)
  • “A community of practice is in a sense a hybrid pattern — it’s informal, emergent, just like a general social network, but it has a center of gravity — the domain — that acts loosely as an organizing principle” (pg 64)

One caveat: the presentation is deceptively long (118 pages in PDF) but don’t be intimidated. The length is because each stage of the slide builds comes out as a separate page, so many individual slides take up 4–5 pages in the PDF file. Also, make sure you increase the window so you see both the slides and notes — Andrew Hinton was very thorough in including the text of his talk in the notes.

KM Blog of the Week

Atlassian Blogs by Stewart Mader

What Happened to Knowledge Management?

Euan Semple points out two articles that examine the state of knowledge management. In Whence goeth KM? (and Part 2), Dave Snowden concludes that knowledge management is on its way out because it has changed so much since it first appeared in the early 1990s…

Today, social tools like wiki focus completely on letting people work together online the same way they’d work in person. The fundamental difference here is they approach knowledge as the product of that organic, non-linear human connection and collaboration… Social computing took over and has dominated as the overarching concept ever since.

For an example of an article that’s still stuck in the old mentality, Semple points to Modernizing Knowledge Management, which is pretty much a recipe for failure because it’s a how-to guide for the old way of thinking.

KM Link of the Week

Social Bookmarking as a Knowledge Management Strategy

In KM Blog of the Week for March 27, 2007 I linked to Robert Berkman’s blog. Since then, he has blogged again to post the full article, which describes the use of social bookmarking services for knowledge management applications for use within the enterprise, and contains a detailed feature comparison chart of both fee-based social bookmarking sites, as well as free personal ones that were determined to be suitable for enterprise use. Products and sites compared include BlinkList, ConnectBeam, Cogenz, Delicious, Diigo, Magnolia, Shadows, and others.

KM Book of the Week

Engaged Knowledge Management: Engagement with New Realities by Kevin Desouza and Yukika Awazu

The book explains how companies can make their information management programs more engaged with the realities of the current business environment and the company’s current workings. The authors contend that current knowledge management efforts in organizations need to be refocused so that they can be better poised for success.


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction 1
  2. Engaging tensions of knowledge management control 8
  3. Engaging with missing knowledge management capabilities 20
  4. Engaging the knowledge chiefs 39
  5. Engaging with distributed knowledge management 67
  6. Engaging knowledge management in strategic alliances 90
  7. Engaging with customer knowledge management 116
  8. Engaging to construct knowledge markets 145
  9. Engaging to calibrate knowledge management systems 169
  10. The future of engaged knowledge management 196

Appendix: Two commentaries on knowledge security issues 211

Other Books by Kevin Desouza

Amazon List

  • Managing Knowledge Security
  • Agile Information Systems
  • The Outsourcing Handbook
  • New Frontiers of Knowledge Management
  • Managing Information in Complex Organizations
  • Managing Knowledge with Artificial Intelligence

Written by

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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store