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Imagining a new kind of community of practice

Reda SadkiDesign, Writing

Busy managers may enjoy connecting socially and exchanging informally with their peers. However, they are likely to find it difficult to justify time doing so. They may say “I’m too busy” but what they usually mean is that the opportunity cost is too high. The Achilles heel of communities of practice is that – just like formal training – they require managers to stop work in order to learn. They break the flow of learning in work. Incentives or perks may help substitute for intrinsic motivation, but these will be counter-productive, if only because they establish expectations that are difficult to meet over time.

Instead, we earn trust and establish relevance by providing services in ways that save time and help solve their business problems. During the inaugural phase, this is similar to a ‘conciergerie’ service, at the beck and call of the managers who just need to ‘push a button’ to get assistance. The key is that this assistance will rely on the network to gradually build meaningful connections, until managers realize that they can actually call and rely on each other, at the point of need. Bypassing the structure we establish will be the indicator of success.

We are building a human-machine interface to augment networked business problem-solving capability.

While there will be ‘social space’, this space only becomes viable if we first succeed in establishing the human-machine interface to respond to manager needs. We expect the initial focus to be on identifying problems that managers are trying to solve. Success is contingent on establishing a structure and process that provides the ability to interrogate the network, collecting and curating responses that are most likely to be helpful to the problem originator.

  • The point is to demonstrate that participation and contribution to the network augments individual capabilities and their ability to deliver results, rather than be perceived as a time-suck with high opportunity cost.
  • We do this in ways, grounded in our successful practice, to foster trust and mutual recognition between managers, leading to their growing engagement with each other as they identify commonalities and their own reasons for deepening collaboration.
  • We rely on the latest innovative tools, using open source AI (machine learning) and performance support, knowledge management, and feedback systems.

The network itself becomes a Co-Agent, a cybernetic performance, data, and decision support system combining both human and machine elements.