Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gurteen Knowledge Cafe - London (Deloitte)

An excellent Gurteen Knowledge Cafe held at Deloitte's offices this week in London attracted close to 80 people (with places filling up in a single day).

The topic was around the history and future evolution of Communities of Practice, with the core cafe question being "How will the emergence of new social media, current organizational dynamics and social change shape the role and impact of communities over the next 10 years?"

The cafe kicked off with an excellent presentation by leading thinker and CoP expert Richard McDermott.

We particularly enjoyed Richard's discussion around the realisation that CoP's would thrive more when given formality, structure, leadership and goals and objectives - rather than the traditional view that informality allowed communities to thrive and be effective.

What was also exceptional, was the discussion around the fact that face-to-face allowed for greater success than "on-line", which was a nice introduction into the group discussion around the evolution of social media and the rise of the Google generation - will they (or the tools they use and the way they use them) change the face of communities of practice, and/or change the very nature of organisations in the future?

Richard's research also points to the fact that the less sophisticated the technology - the better the adoption and greater the chance of success - and that too few organisations put enough emphasis on the design of the 'social' side of the community, focusing rather on an over design of the technology to support and enable them.

There was some great discussion across the groups at the cafe, but what it didn't explore enough for us was the individual human motivations associated with community memberships - what are the reasons an individual seeks, joins, starts, participates or consumes from a community? Do these motivations change over time? Is there a link to our old pal Maslow? Do the motivations differ if the group is internal or external to the organisation? Do these motivations match other members or conflict with other members motivations - and does the conflict or co-operation of individual motivations contribute to the ultimate success of the group.

For those in the know, you'll understand the value of having Richard present. He is a founding thinkers on communities of practice, co-author of Cultivating Communities (Harvard University Press) and author of over 3 dozen articles on communities of practice, expertise development, and sharing good practice.

His articles have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, the California Management Review, the Journal of Knowledge Management, the Cutter IT Journal, The Knowledge Management Review and others.

If you've not yet been to a Gurteen Cafe, we would strongly suggest jumping in and getting involved, as it is an excellent way to hear cross industry experiences in the world of Knowledge Management. Well done Dave.


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