Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Serendipity and Communities of Practice

We have recently been working with an organisation, setting up communities of practice as part of a knowledge management approach. It's an organisation of fragmented parts, which have recently come together under a single umbrella, and they chose communities of practice as a means to exchange best practice around the organisation. We launched the communities, and set up a series of meetings (they don't have groupware in place yet) to begin to discuss candidate best practices that could be shared and replicated.

That's when serendipity took over. Serendipity as the daughter of connectivity.

In most of the communities, sharing began to happen organically as a result of the connectivity and relationships that had been established across the previously fragmented parts of the organisation (as you might expect!). As well as working on these candidate best practices, the community members began to tap into each other for help and advice. Knowledge has begun to flow around the communities, fuelled by Pull (asking for help), long before the best practices have been successfully Pushed from one part of the organisation to another.

The best practices will flow, but it was striking (though perhaps not surprising) how informal Pull has delivered three success stories already, while we still wait for the more formal Push to pay off.

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