CPsquare invited Mark Bennett of Rio Tinto to talk in a teleconference about his experiences with fostering communities of practice within Rio Tinto, an international company. I missed the call because I thought GMT= London time, but I discovered that London is not the same as Greenwich. Fortunately, the call was recorded and I could listen to it while driving around. Since I was driving, I couldn't take any notes. However, I recall that Mark Bennett said that a good definition of the domain can be very compelling and attract new members to a community like a magnet. This is something I have observed too. The definition and formulation of the domain is an intervention that contributes (with lots of other factors) to the success of a community of practice. The definition should be such that people recognise it as one of their own interests. He further talked about the place of community builders and knowledge managers in the organisation. Research and development, human resource department or IT department? ?The last seems to be the worst option.
You can see a video he used to demonstrate the value of the community of practice here. It took quite an investment to make the video because he wanted to be absolutely sure that the innovation worked. The video tells the story of a coalmine in Australia with problems with bulldozer brakes. They used collaborative forums to ask for advice. They found out that two engineers in other parts of the world had experienced similar problems and had already solved them.