Learn, Exchange, Develop ...

by Peter Troxler and Kristina Lauche
(c) 2006 Peter Troxler, Kristina Lauche

Communities of Practice have become almost a standard answer to the quest of organisations to foster learning, sharing and development of knowledge. However, they still pose the classic challenges of Knowledge Management of finding the middle ground between technology-driven and people-driven approaches, between systematic solutions and mere fads, and between forced and self-directed participation.

This chapter reports how three companies in the same industry implemented Communities of Practice. The examples show three fundamentally different approaches to the challenge, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

A meta-analysis of discussions among Knowledge Management practitioners and academics serves to contextualise the three examples and to develop a set of issues to be considered and questions to be addressed when implementing Communities of Practice. The chapter concludes that ‘implementing Communities of Practice is all about designing practice’. It drafts a design strategy based on the assertion that Communities of Practice ‘have to dance between freedom and purpose’ and have to be allowed to (re)negotiate their direction and circumstances.

This case study is part of the book:
Kazi, A.S., and Wolf, P. (2006) Real-Life Knowledge Management: Lessons from the Field, KnowledgeBoard, ISBN: 952-5004-72-4.
You can find more information on the book (including download options) and its contents (case studies) at knowldedgeboard.com.

Download this chapter (pdf, 608 kB)