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Communities of practice, their benefits and management challenges - Essay Example

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This paper will look into Communities of Practice, their benefits and a number of management challenges that they pose in a knowledge-based organisation. A community of practice has numerous benefits to an organisation. …
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Download file to see previous pages This paper will look into Communities of Practice, their benefits and a number of management challenges that they pose in a knowledge-based organisation. A community of practice has numerous benefits to an organisation. Organisations the world over have been utilising Communities of Practice for the last 2 decades in order to have sound knowledge-management systems. It is however important to note that CoPs have existed for centuries within management circles but their full formal attention in a modern organisational setup only emerged in the early 1990s. A CoP is comprised of a group of people willing to share their knowledge and expertise for a considerable amount of time. Organisations have used them to develop their human resources and encourage innovation and new approaches to problem solving. The intensifying of globalisation trends in the 1990s triggered heightened global competition. In order to survive firms are supposed to be creative and innovating which has driven them to appreciate the role that knowledge plays in organisational development. CoPs assist in diffusing knowledge and leverage a firm’s intellectual advantages. Knowledge-based organisations therefore require CoPs in developing their knowledge strategies. As such CoPs also have their limitations in respect to management of a firm. This paper will look into Communities of Practice, their benefits and a number of management challenges that they pose in a knowledge-based organisation. A community of practice has numerous benefits to an organisation. Formerly, many firms used information systems in knowledge management but the results were disappointing. CoP offers relatively new approaches where people interact and learn together. Due to the benefits that this approaches have most firms have adopted CoPs (Wenger and Snyder 2000). Some of the key benefits are as follows; Help with challenges It is clear that all firms experience challenges in their day-to-day running. However, these challenges need to be dealt with and a community of practice should be established to do just that. CoP solves problems by pooling of expertise, knowledge and skills from a number of employees. It is important to note that their winding down and eventual shutting down happens when problems they were dealing with are solved and consequently their purpose is fulfilled. Access expertise Organisations that treasure CoP are predominantly knowledge-based meaning that they require a great deal of expertise to carry out their tasks. In order to have a successful CoP its membership should be comprised of knowledgeable and experienced people. In case a firm is short of such workforce it is forced to source for them. In doing this a firm attains a pool of experts within its workforce which works to improve on its performance and profitability. Enhancement of team spirit Members in a community of practice need to work together to achieve set goals. They are not necessarily people who share the same ideals or beliefs but they are required to have similar interests in order to ensure a solid group (Llewellyn and Hindmarsh 2010). This facilitates teamwork in decision making and strategy formulation. Saving on cost an time of searching for information A CoP is established in order to deal with problems or to develop solutions. A small team is assembled which analyses the way forward. The smaller the team, the less the time they take in coming up with a solution. A small team is also easily managed and it is relatively cheap to maintain. This saves a great deal of time that inter-departmental meetings would have taken for consultations. It also offers time for the rest of the employee to continue with their normal duties while just a handful of them are picked to deal with pending issues (Wenger and Snyder 2000). The opportunity cost would be too high in taking many workers’ time in decision making. Improvement in quality of decisions A CoP is comprised of carefully selected people who bring to the table high-level skills and expertise. This assures the firm that the discussions made are meaningful and that decisions arrived at have high likeliness of being the best for the particular situation. Firms that have many CoPs tend to have better operational strategies which ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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