Encourage self organized communities of practice
Are you familiar with knowledge flow problems in your organization? Such day-to-day experiences can interfere with an organization‘s efficiency and performance. An example of an issue might be that a manager notices a worker or colleague is not open to sharing his position‘s knowledge, so the manager needs to reinvent processes that already exist.
For high productivity of knowledge work, a culture of knowledge sharing is a must. The culture of bureaucratic organizations does not encourage knowledge sharing. A lack of knowledge sharing and knowledge management in an organization is a Barrier to innovation.
The common form of innovation is a start-up, alas; successful start-ups, which grow into organizations, soon lose their innovative spirit and find it difficult to compete in new products, services, solutions, process etc. For a growing organization to stay competitive - Internal Innovation Management is a must!
For innovation we need to develop an entrepreneurial spirit which is not the strength of most employees, who prefer job security and confidence with no risk-taking. In the innovation age we expect them to become entrepreneurs internally and in order to succeed they need a lot of encouragement, empowerment, support - this is the challenge of INTRAPRENEURSHIP or what Prof. Gary Hamel calls - bringing the Silicon Valley inside. This demands a different management style and attitude from the current traditional management culture.
Communities of practice (CoPs) are a social model whose basic claim is that learning, innovation, and collaboration are social processes.
CoPs are networks of people who have common interests, share a field of specialization, have known each other over a period of time, and trust each other. Therefore it is natural and easy for them to share and create new knowledge, either as a group or as individuals inspired by the group.
The CoPs may have different forms: they may be formal, like a successful professional team of mechanical engineers in an organization, or informal, like a group of middle managers from various departments of the organization with some common interests.
The reason that interactions are so important for knowledge management is that they allow for the exchange and creation of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is different from explicit knowledge, which is documented or written in a codified and explicit form. Tacit knowledge is inside people‘s heads. Tacit knowledge is expressed in responding to new situations and problems, thus creating new knowledge.
Knowledge is the most important asset of a modern organization. Communities of Practice (CoPs) are the best instrument of Knowledge creation and sharing and so it is the best model to hack bureaucracy, and allow for knowledge sharing resulting in higher productivity of knowledge and innovation. CoPs develop a culture of experimentation and learning from failures and generating new ideas.
An organization where communities of practice flourish becomes a learning organization with major contributions to waste cutting and innovative solutions.
1. Managers are afraid to let go. They are stuck in command and control management and become the barrier for self-organized learning communities.
2. In an era of knowledge work, employees often translate knowledge to power and so are reluctant to share knowledge.
3. A fear to use technological infrastructure which arises from a concern of important information leak.
Invite all stakeholders to a face to face or an online kick off meeting. Let people raise problems they would like to explore and solve together. Allow and encourage these new communities to go on with this knowledge sharing and knowledge creating activities beyond the first meeting as long as they wish.
Eve Mitleton Kelly