Company Command is the most practical community of practice (CoP) implementation guide that I’ve read so far. It traces the story of the development of an online community designed to share knowledge between US Army company commanders, past and present. If you can get over the military jargon (and even some acronyms that I, an ex-soldier, couldn’t figure out) the lessons in this book are transferable to civilian life.
Here is a summary of the key concepts from Chapter One:
- Knowledge resides primarily in the minds of community members
- Connecting members allows knowledge to flow
- Relationships, trust and a sense of a professional community are critical factors for an effective community
- Content development emerges from needs expressed in conversations
- A decentralized network is best
The books authors go on to tell stories about how the community grew and discuss the types of roles that are necessary for an effective knowledge-sharing community [I've changed to non-military terms].
- Initial Core Team of two or three people who desire to share knowledge.
- Early Adopters who are members of the community that you are serving, especially those who are already well-connected.
- Mavens with deep knowledge in an area that is valued by the members.
The book is filled with practical ideas and I’m sure that anyone involved in building online communities will find something useful here. I will be using much of the advice here to help start a CoP that a client is launching over the next nine months, and I appreciate that the folks at Tomoye, who provide the technical platform for CompanyCommand, passed on this book to us.