Todays knowledge ecosystems are not bounded
by organizational structures and enterprise borders. Portions of
the enterprise knowledge ecosystem may be proprietary. But today's
relationships and exchanges of knowledge are using new generations
of communities of practice and emerging value webs that are unconfined,
uncontrolled, and often uncontrollable.
The complexity of markets and learning
systems in the knowledge economy has sparked a trend toward communities
that are not confined to the boundary of a single organization.
Rather, these communities help weave broader value webs created
by relationships and exchanges both within and beyond the boundaries
of the firm.
Etienne Wenger, et al., 2002
Taking a Systemic View of
All Aspects of Knowledge Ecologies
Todays emerging practice of knowledge management
takes a systemic view of knowledge ecologies. The next generation
of knowledge infrastructures and tools will provide both the capacity
and the stimulus to refashion all of the elements of the knowledge
and hence social ecosystem.
Knowledge is not a thing that
can be managed like physical assets, but a human and
organizational capacity produced by collaborative relationships
that can be nurtured and inspired.
George Por, 2001
It has become an article of faith among developers
of organizational technology infrastructures that the ultimate value
from technology investment lies in its capacity to enable/leverage
the reinvention and innovation of business processes. But the term
process reinvention does not do justice to the entire
scope of innovation. In reality, the goal is reinvent the conversational
space of the enterprise the dynamics and relationships
of the organization that are embedded in business processes, communities
of practice, and other elements of the organizational systems
Organizational Structures and
Communities of Practice
Organizations function through intersecting patterns
of relationships involving individuals and a differentiated set
of organizational structures in which they participate. Most individuals
participate in multiple structures and communities, both formally
and informallyand many extend beyond the organizational workplace.
These structures range from formal department, project teams, and
operational teams to informal networks and communities of various
kinds. In recent years, practitioners have come to recognize and
articulate the importance of communities of practice.
The community of practice organizational structure
exists to create, expand, and exchange knowledge and to develop
individual capabilities. Individuals choose to belong through self-selection,
based on expertise or passion for the topic. Communities of practice
are bordered by fuzzy boundaries that extend beyond
formal organizations and are held together by the passion and commitment
of their participants. They evolve and last as long as there is
relevance to the topic and value in learning together.