This month, The Learning Circuits blog asks how do we break down organizational walls when it comes to learning?
One way to look at this problem is to see what kind of work needs to get done in the organization. For example, if you are trying to balance the need to support complex work with innovation, as many knowledge-intensive companies are, then there are different needs to be simultaneously addressed. Complex work requires strong ties and high levels of trust to enable work teams to function. This often has to be done behind the firewall to protect competitive secrets. On the other hand, innovation needs loose ties and a wide network to get diverse points of view. This means working outside the firewall on the wide open Web.
Communities of Practice, supported by skilled community managers and appropriate knowledge-sharing tools can bridge these two areas. They can provide a lightly structured forum to bring outside ideas inside the organization, to multiple teams, while not detracting from the work being done in individual projects.