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Tailoring IT support to communities of practice

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1 Author(s)
Agresti, W.W. ; John Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD, USA

Many organizations have benefited from recognizing communities of practice (COPs) operating in their midst. By identifying a group as a COP, an organization has made a critical skill area visible. Without this awareness it would be more likely, for example, that the corporate talent in auditing software processes could quietly disappear. With the importance of COPs established, organizations can now turn their attention to ensuring that their IT and knowledge management systems enable COPs to flourish. A simple folder on a corporate server to share documents is an example of such support. More comprehensive support to a COP may include virtual space on the corporate intranet for synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, expertise location, and content structuring (B. Lewis, "On-Demand KM: A Two-Tier Architecture", IT Professional, Jan.-Feb. 2002, pp. 27-33). As organizations decide how to support COPs, they should know that COPs are not in any way uniform entities. There is wide variation among COPs and understanding these differences can go a long way toward providing support that is truly well matched to the needs of each one. Two observations are keys to understanding the variety of COPs that are candidates for organizational support: The number of potential COPs is great, and, there are many kinds of groups and communities; not all of them are COPs.

Published in:

IT Professional  (Volume:5 ,  Issue: 6 )