Re: US Army KM Manual, August 2008 #CoP
You might want to look at what Fluor Corporation does with CoP’s. These are very much in line with Mike Gardner’s comments around communities with “defined goals that support the business.”
If you are not familiar with it, Fluor is a global engineering and construction company with offices in something like 25 countries. They have 47,000 employees.
Fluor has something on the order of 44 communities. Their communities are directly aligned with their functional organizations. So for example if they have a functional group that is for their construction engineers, they would have a parallel Knowledge CoP that is lead by the same person that leads the functional organization.
As I understand it, participation in the CoP’s is voluntary, but leadership roles are formally assigned and are part of people’s formal job descriptions.
In a recent presentation to the SIKMleaders group, John McQuary, who leads Fluor’s KM effort said that the purpose of their communities is to:
þ Leverage the collective intellectual capital of all employees
þ Provide optimal solutions to customers
þ Enhance skill sets of employees
þ Provide Global access to knowledge
The following is a link to McQuary’s presentation.
You also might want to take a look at a relatively recent article by Richard McDermott, which is also posted on the SIKMleaders site – entitled Building Healthy Communities. In the article Richard talks about the difference between informal and strategic communities as well as the role of leadership.
Hope this helps,
sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Gardner, Mike
In answer to your questions (Gian) I think in some ways you are talking about the difference between a Community of Practice and a Community of Interest (I may be simplifying things a little). A Community of Practice is normally set up with a defined goal of supporting the business in some way. In this case the business often designates at least some of the members of the community. As the aim is to deliver in direct line with the business objectives there will normally be a direct reporting line in to the business and if the community loses members, has no volunteers, then the business itself may try to volunteer members to continue the delivery.
A Community of Interest is set up based on a group of people being interested in a topic. If the numbers dwindle to not being a functioning community then the community should probably be closed down (until sufficient interest is generated to start it up again). The alternative would be that the business decides it is an essential function and changes it to become a Community of Practice and nominates members for that community to ensure it delivers against the business requirements.
Both types of community are valid and can both exist in a single organisation.
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