Forming Knowledge Communities

Sometimes, not matter how good the people are in a team, they don't seem to be effective. One reason for this is communication. In software information is needed to get systems working, and rarely is a specification good enough. In the last few years in Agile practices more has been made about forming Communities of Practice. This is the growing tread of recognising the in-formal communication that occurs in effective organisations. Recognising Communities or creating communities within organisation not only promotes good knowledge transfer, but encourages inter-departmental cooperation/colaboration. This improves the working environment. One sign of of a dysfunctional organistaions is inter-departmental feuds.

Knowledge Networks: innovation through Communities of Practice is an interesting book with some case studies of Communities of Practice and their development within large organisations. One paper in this book, by Vestal and Lopez, lists best practices in developing communities: ensuring that communities also add buisness value:

  • Select Communities: select communities that have value to develop and sustain.
  • Gaining Support and Establishing Resources: prospective leaders produce a buisness case that outlines the mission and the need for any resources needed, large communities may need portals and collaborative software.
  • Roles and Development: Select a sponsor to champion the community, determine what how the community might succeed.
    Determine roles of individuals in development.

  • Ongoing Facilitation: Monitor Communities to determine when they're no longer needed.
  • Technological Resources: Resources like databases, knowledge repositories, chat rooms help facilitiate beyond meetings.

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