Communities of Practice in KM

It is often observed that a group of people comes together and share each others experience over a particular subject of a common interest. This experience sharing helps each other in solving day to day problems and updating themselves with new knowledge in the area of their work. A group of nursing staffs share each others experience about patient care while taking lunch together in hospital canteen is example of a natural learning community interaction. This happens naturally without any outside involvement. Similarly a group of copy machine technicians share their experiences over handling customer complaints is a example of how community forums are naturally evolved and helps every member in their professional life.

It is analyzed that in a community of Practice there are three elements present. These three elements are Domain, Community and Practice. Let us understand what we mean by each of these three elements.


This is the area or the subject of interest which binds all the members. This can be our profession or any other area of our interest. A doctor by profession can be member of a IT community because of the interest he or she has on the subject. Members of the community are passionate about the domain. A member can be involved in more than one community. A domain keeps the point of discussion focused.


How is the periodicity of interaction? How is the trust and relationship among the members of the community? Are they freely expressing their views? How is the structure of the community? All these answers tell about the community. The frequency or the periodicity of the interaction is important here. If two hydraulics experts working on similar machine happens to meet on a flight and there discussion can't be a community interaction as the periodicity of the meeting is once only. A one time interaction can't form a community interaction.


A one time machine technician or a not practicing doctor can't join a community of their profession. They must be active in their area to get benefit out of the interaction.

Organization culture and its Knowledge Management system play an important role promoting community interaction. We will discuss more on this in these articles.

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