Monday, 30 July 2012

CoPs - how mature is mature enough?

How Old Is Old Enough 1950 There are many maturity models out there for Communities of Practice, as well as for Knowledge Management as a whole (like this NASA example). We offer our own version, which follows many of the same principles as the others (which is not surprising - there is a pretty robust understanding of what drives a community of practice).

Generally a Community of Practice matures through a start-up phase, reaches a phase where it is focused on solving the problems of the members, and matures to a stage where it is involved in strategy, and in solving the problems of the organisation.

Recently we were discussing this with a client, and they asked the question - does a CoP ever have to reach that final strategic stage?

To be honest, no it doesn't. we know a Community of Practice that have been operating for 17 years, and has never really moved out of the "solving problems for members" stage. And that doesn't matter. It is delivering massive benefit for the members, and for the company. Perhaps it's mature enough for that particular topic.

We need to treat a maturity model not as a progression that a CoP "must follow," but as an illustration of what's possible in terms of value add.

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