Directed or directionless CoP’s

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There’s an interesting item on Dave Snowden’s blog about whether a community of practice should be self-organising, or if it should be directed. I’d agree with Dave on the point he makes that CoP’s evolve and can’t be designed top-down. However, I think it does depend to some extent on the context or environment in which the CoP evolves as to how much planning and direction you afford it. My experience of how CoP’s are evolving in the public sector is that there is a need for some degree of planning to identify where a community approach might work better than the usual ‘let’s set up a web site for identifying best practice in the South West local authorities’ – or wherever – approach. Many of the people involved in these regional/local initiatives are only just beginning to see the light in terms of cross-boundary collaboration and need a nudge or two to get them thinking in terms of CoP’s. Whether one wants to think of this as ‘planning’ in the engineering sense I’m not sure. All I know is that there is a degree of direction involved in getting a CoP established, and a need for some care and maintenance of the CoP during the early days. The concept of CoP’s is still new to the majority of the public sector, and someone needs to apply liberal amounts of fertiliser to encourage growth!

About Post Author

Stephen Dale

I’m a life-long learner with an insatiable curiosity about life. I love travel, good food, and good company. I’m happy to share what I know with others….even the interesting stuff! My outlook on life is pretty well captured in this quote from a book about the legend of King Arthur: “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King So much to learn, so little time!
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