A couple of days ago, Shawn from Anecdote released the revised short paper, Tacit knowledge retention with communities of practice. I pretty much concur with what was said, and in particular, the following three key benefits of managing tacit knowledge through communities of practice:
1) “the groups enrich the context around their area of interest”
2) “the increasing interaction among members of the group … enables members to respond quickly to unusual and unpredictable requests”, and
3) “the existence of a community of practice means that there is a deeper and wider pool of expertise from which to draw”.
These three benefits were clearly in evidence in the experiences and context of my pubs.
Finally, in discussing strategies for establishing a community of practice, I agree with Shawn that initial interaction can be stimulated by providing overt content for discussion and sharing. I initiated content for discussion in some groups but it was also true that some emergent issues took off by members without my initiation.
However, I do believe that facilitation does have a role within a community of practice. The facilitation role needs to be considered within the most appropriate strategy for the particular context of the proposed group.