Monday, February 06, 2006

Practical examples: identifying communities of practice throught storytelling

Seth Kahan and Madelyn Blair wrote a short paper on the identification of communities of practice in the World Bank. I blogged it already, but it mysteriously disappeared (I tried haloscan maybe that's the problem). So again:
Kahan worked in information systems in the Bank for 11 years, so he was a real practitioner, when he tried to breath life into a community of practice on Information Solutions. His first step was to identify the existing informal networks and focus efforts on nurturing them. He brought in a consultant, Madelyn Blair, who could speak their 'language' too. They handpicked 20-30 movers and shakers, all inspired veterans.

The veterans were each asked to share a story about a work assignment that was especially exciting. The stories changed to energy in the room noticeable. People were leaning in and listening closely to each other. Over the next days, they worked to identify common themes and began to identify 9 groups.

The paper gives a sample story as well as 7 guidelines on how to use storytelling to identify communities of practice.

1 comment:

Seth said...

Well done, Joitske. You may also be interested in a recent interview I did with my former supervisor, Steve Denning, on social networks and storytelling. The piece starts with Steve's assertion that "A mechanistic organization or a command-and-control organization isn't efficient or effective, at least in the medium term."

Storytelling and social networks seem to be a magic combination for getting "real work" done, as opposed to fulfilling the demands of those at the top of the heirarchical org chart. CoPs are an such example of genuine interest put to work. The entire interview can be downloaded via

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