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Knowledge management as a doughnut: Shaping your knowledge strategy through communities of practice by Etienne Wenger In this article it is argued

that knowledge management is primarily the business of the practitioners. They need to interact with colleagues because they benefit from the stimulation and because knowledge of any field is too complex for any individual to cover. Thus, communities of practice become the cornerstones of knowledge management; they are the social fabric of knowledge. Hence, the role of professional managers is not to manage knowledge directly, but to enable practitioners to do so. The doughnut model is like a loop; it starts with strategy and ends with strategy. Knowledge management is seen as a strategic activity and requires the full cycle of activities in the doughnut from strategy to performance and back. According to the author, three fundamental characteristics of communities exist: domain provides a common focus; community builds relationships that enable collective learning; and practice anchors the learning in what people do. From these elements, steps are derived that connect the strategy of a company to its performance. This is the first half of the doughnut:

Translate the strategy of the organisation into a set of domains

Cultivate the communities according to each domain

Engage practitioners in the development of their practice

Practitioners belong at once to their communities and to their work teams. This makes them the direct carriers of knowledge. Therefore, involving practitioners in knowledge management is also important for returning knowledge from the field. CoPs need to manage the knowledge results from the work of their members and feed this knowledge back into the organisation. This management of knowledge assets closes the loop and builds a link from performance to strategy:

Practice revisited: Translate the learning inherent in activities into refined practices

Community revisited: Broaden the scope of learning beyond its source

Domain revisited: Think about knowledge strategically

The full doughnut model of knowledge management requires a number of enabling structures that integrate the work of communities of practice into the organisation. These are the sponsorship, recognition and support structures. When the cycle of the doughnut model is thus integrated into the organisation, CoPs connect strategy to performance through a focus on knowledge.

Wengers KM model

The piece that seems to be missing (at least for me) is core knowledge related practices. Wondering where are practices or affordances that support knowledge creation, personal / community awareness, innovation and sharing?. Here I'm thinking about practices to enable shared meaning, improve sense-making, increase awareness, share values, incrementally build trust, articulate tacit heuristics, capture stories..... Some possibilities that I have explored are: * concept mapping, * pattern language, * ontologies, * writing core documents, * distinctions and living glossaries, * wikis & blogs, * learning profiles Shaping Your Knowledge Strategy Through Communities of Practice Can you have your doughnut and eat it too? You can, if the doughnut in question is the way you handle knowledge, since knowledge consumed still exists to be used again. Etienne Wenger understands the criticisms of much of the field of knowledge management but, seeing knowing as a strategic organizational asset, it does need to be managed in the sense of being stewarded, grown, and made more useful. Wenger believes the most promising approach lies in communities of practice a field in which he is a leading expert. When knowledge is managed effectively, it is left primarily to the practitioners the dough-makers rather than the managers, leaving the center of the doughnut empty. This 8-page paper crisply sets out key principles of knowledge management as approached through communities of practice. Knowledge management doesnt happen without the right organizational context processes to coordinate knowledge flows and to integrate them into business processes including various technologies, interpersonal connections, document repositories, and institutional and cultural norms. However, warns Wenger, all these things do not do knowledge management, they merely

enable it. His fundamental principle of knowledge management states that: Practitioners, the people who use this knowledge in their activities, are in the best position to manage this knowledge. These practitioners need to interact with colleagues in communities of practice groups of people who share a passion for something that they know how to do, and who interact regularly in order to learn how to do it better. Wenger sees the community of practice as the cornerstone of knowledge management, leaving managers with the task of enabling practitioners to manage the knowledge. The various elements of how this works in practice are illustrated by the authors doughnut model which consists of a thick but hollow doughnut circling within whose walls are Performance, Domains, Communities, Practices, Strategy, Learning, Sharing, and Stewarding (which then brings us back to performance). Wengers paper examines each of these elements briefly, with the elements of Domain, Community, and Practice forming the three elements of a community of practice. He notes that the doughnut model is not intended as a chronological sequence of steps but only to reveal the logic of a community-based knowledge strategy. For each move in the logic of the elements, Wenger defines his terms and raises key issues such as integrating knowledge-extraction processes into normal business processes to make learning part of regular work, combine broadcast and push processes, and involving communities of practice in a two-way strategic conversation with the organization. KM is not an end in itself to Wenger. He pays close attention to thinking about knowledge strategically, noting that successful communities combined bottom-up enthusiasm with top-down encouragement from the organization. The latter involve enables structures of sponsorship, recognition, and support. Wenger has provided an excellent overview of the subject in this paper. If youre looking for more detail, I strongly recommend his book, Cultivating Communities of Practice. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT AS A DOUGHNUT: SHAPING YOUR KNOWLEDGE STRATEGY THROUGH COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE 1. About the author Etienne Wenger Etienne Wenger, a recognized authority on the discipline, is a consultant and researcher, and the co-author of Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge (Harvard Business School Press, 2002) with R. McDermott and W. Snyder. 2. Summary The utility of knowledge management has been debating for a long time. Knowledge is a strategic asset so it has to be managed like any critical assets of organization. In this article, the author argues that in the term knowledge management, management is a doughnut with empty centre. Knowledge management, therefore, is primarily the business of those who actually make the dough ? the practitioners. Unless you are able to involve practitioners actively in the process, your ability to truly manage knowledge assets is going to remain seriously limited. The article

proposes fundamental principles for effectively managing knowledge. The doughnut model of knowledge management is the key issue to be discussed in this article. 3. Key points 3.1 Principles of knowledge management - Practitioners, the people who use knowledge in their activities, are in the best position to manage this knowledge. Since knowledge of any field is too complex for any individual to cover, community of practice, which are social structures that focus on knowledge and explicitly enable the management of knowledge to be placed in the hands of practitioners, comes to play a critical role. - Communities of practice are groups of people who share a passion for something that they know how to do, and who interact regularly in order to learn how to do it better. They, therefore, are the cornerstones of knowledge management. From this perspective, the role of professional manager is not to manage knowledge directly, but to enable practitioners to do so. - Communities of practice manage their knowledge. If you had enough knowledge to micromanage communities of practice, you would not need them. In contrary, communities of practice need to be in dialogue with executives in the organization, other communities of practice, and experts outside the organization. - No community can fully manage the learning of another, but no community can fully manage its own learning. 3.2 Three elements of a community of practice - Domain: the area of knowledge that brings the community together, gives it identity, and defines the key issues that members need to address. - Community: it is the group of people for whom the domain is relevant, the quality of the relationships among members, and the definition of the boundary between the inside and the outside. - Practice: the body of knowledge, methods, tools, stories, cases, documents? share & develop by members. Company-wide communities make learning available to all concerned. They make sure that the learning from various locations within and beyond the organization is synthesized and integrated, and then remembered and distributed. 3.3 From strategy to performance

Doughnut model is meant to convey the logic of a community-based knowledge strategy, bottom-up as well as top-down, not a chronological sequence of steps. Elements of Doughnut model: - Domain: knowledge is needs to do what you want. Translation from the strategy of the organization into a set of domains is neither static nor obvious. Key issues are how to mix topdown and bottom-up processes to allow an organization engage the passion of its practitioners in strategic challenges; how to allow new domain to emerge and old ones to disappear? - Communities: cultivate the communities according to each domain. You need people to have knowledge. This step is to find the practitioners who can form a community to take care of the knowledge in their domain. Key issues: how to overcome organization silos; accommodate various levels of participation among people with diverging needs; manage community boundaries; form and interconnect sub-communities to encourage mutual engagement? - Practice: you need experience to produce usable knowledge. Mutual engagement in the detail of practice is important to energize a community of practitioners. Key issues: how to maximize the value-for-time ratio for practitioners involved in; recognize and reward their efforts; help them organize their resources and make them easily accessible; understand, appreciate and accelerate the effects of community activities on performance - Strategy: practitioners are the direct two-way carrier of knowledge from communities to work teams. If a new solution is proposed in their community, they can apply it to their work. If they discover a new solution in their work, they can share it with their community. - Learning: what have we learned from practice revisited? This step is to translate the learning inherent in activities into refined practices. Key issues: how to integrate these knowledgeextraction processes into normal business processes so that learning becomes part of regular work; involve community members to translate learning into useful practices for their community? - Sharing: the role of the community then is to make sure that project-specific learning be available to all concerned. They make sure that the learning will be synthesized, integrated, remembered and distributed. Key issues: how to combine broadcast and pull processes so that people know what is available and get it when they need it; communicate knowledge in ways that carry the mark of practice beyond a specific locality; ensure relevance and validity of learning across context? Who has accountability for decisions and policies? - Stewarding: this step is to think about knowledge strategically. This strategic stewardship takes two forms: adopting a strategic stance in thinking about the domain and the development of knowledge and finding what new business opportunities exist. Key issues: how to involve communities of practice in a two-way strategic conversation with the organization; translate the insights they gain from managing their knowledge into strategic directions that the organization can pursue? 3.4 Strategic management: rolling the doughnut

The most successful communities have always combined bottom-up enthusiasm and initiative from members with top-down encouragement from the organization. Getting going on the doughnut can be started where there is energy, one community at a time and spread as people see the value. However, the full doughnut also requires sponsorship, recognition and support structures to integrate the work of communities of practice into the organization - Sponsorship structure: It includes high-level executive sponsorship as well as the sponsorship of line managers who control the time usage of employees to make sure that the community has the resources it needs to function and that its ideas and proposals find their way into the organization. The role of sponsorship includes translating strategic imperatives into a knowledge-centric vision of the organization, legitimizing the work of communities, channelling appropriate resources to ensure sustained success, giving a voice to the insights and proposals of communities, negotiating accountability between line operations and communities. - Recognition structure: the advantage of a community is that it allows practitioners to build a reputation beyond the team. The reputation depends on peer recognition, which is communitybased feedback and acknowledges mechanisms, and organizational recognition, which is rubric in performance appraisal for community contributions and career paths for people who take on community leadership - Support structure: communities need some organizational support to function optimally. They are a few explicit roles, direct resources for the nurturing of the community infrastructure, technological infrastructure and a small support team of internal consultants who provide logistic and process advice for communities 4. Examples The story of DaimlerChrysler: Community of brake engineers at DaimlerChrysler want to share knowledge on design of brakes in small cars, big cars, trucks, minivan? In this case, parts of the car provide the logic for defining domains: brakes, windshield wipers, seats? DaimlerChrysler make book of knowledge to document lessons learned and best practices of each community. The story of the US Army: The US Army has become famous for its After Action Review (AAR), which is a process of candid discussion that immediately follows any action by comparing expectation with actual result. This is a very important part in knowledge management by Doughnut model: translate the learning inherent in activities into refined practices. The story of HP: They have regular project snapshots in which team members reflect on their project to identify what they have learned.

The story of British Petroleum: A team embarking on a new project will often convene a peer assist, a multi-day event in which the new team invites a team that has done the same thing or something similar to discuss the new plan in light of their experience. The story of Xerox: A panel of master practitioners review the tips from the field to confirm their applicability across contexts. 5. My point of view The key point to shape knowledge strategy for organizations is through communities of practice. The most advantage point of Doughnut model of creating & managing knowledge is that it contains both top-down & bottom-up information to crosscheck and learn new lessons. What I like about this article is the fact that author take a doughnut as an example to illustrate the cycle of knowledge management. This example is attractive and its easily to understand by all people at any level in the company. It also can illustrate for the idea that practitioners of communities of practice must summarize new learned knowledge in the most simple and easy way to understand in order to make it easy for later learning, sharing, applying and storing. However, the examples given in this article are all big companies with strong resources to apply, sponsor and support for the implementation of Doughnut model. For small companies with weak resources, how can they afford to do the same things in the context of lacking of good human resources, technology and capital?