“…What we know and do inside our organizations is insufficient to address external complexity or to be innovative… Connecting the diversity of markets and society to the organization, instead of creating firewalls, is a major challenge for leadership today. How do you maintain the integrity of the organization while embracing the chaos beyond?
Jarche believes that communities of practice are at least one part of the answer, because they can sit in between external networks (where you find diversity of experience and thought) and the internal teams (staff or volunteers) who are actually doing the specific and complex project work.
“In the middle are communities of practice, which comprise a mix of strong and weak social ties and are the ideal liquid space for mixing learning and work while sharing advice and knowledge. Social networks are the enabling technologies that can connect external networks, communities of practice and project teams. Social learning is what flows on these networks.”
Read the rest of the post here. Also take a look at that link above to a post on social learning, which has a lot of practical details on how the workplace processes involved.
I think it’s extremely useful to think about communities of practice (which are, essentially, what associations are in general, but are also the way many associations organize themselves at the ground level of volunteer management) in this way. If you see your volunteer groups as the bridge between the association and the wider community – not just the association community itself but all of the weak ties connecting it to the wider world – you can see how you might be able to make it a priority to amplify diversity (cognitive and otherwise) within all of the work your volunteer groups do. How can you start to bake in some “bridging activity” to every working group you have?