Communities of practice in the European Commission

We have been advising leaders in the European Commission about the developing their strategy for working with CoP, as well as facilitating the learning community coordinators  since the Summer of 2006. CoPs in the Commission come in different forms, sometimes called “knowledge networks,” or just simply “networks.” No matter what their name is, their common denominator is: they exist because their members derive some value from participating in them.

Communities of practice in public administration are not as wide-spread as in the private sector and there is a good reason for that. While market pressures and the forces of competition may push push companies to mobilize the collective intelligence that the communities can give access to, there are no such pressures that affect government agencies. Yet, agencies truly responsible for creating the most value for the taxpayers’ money, cannot ignore the additional energy and collective creativity that can be unleashed in the communities when employees are willing, allowed, and able to share their knowledge with one another.

We have just completed a 7-month case study on knowledge sharing practices in one of the Directorates General best known for its pioneering accomplishments in that area. One of their strengths that we noticed and documented is the large variety of opportunities they created for informal knowledge sharing, of which CoP is only one. Our 88-page Final Report of the case study is not available available to the public but we will ask for permission to publish some of our high-level learning from it.

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