Sharing Knowledge

By Heather Jungst

Through the course of doing research and planning for our learning community, we came across Etienne and Beverly ‘Bev’ Wenger-Trayner’s website.  Bev Wenger-Trayner recently posted a blog about the issues behind collaboration and sharing knowledge, specifically the challenge community organizers are facing regarding how to share knowledge (

Communities of practice (CoPs) are centered on sharing and learning about a common knowledge base.  This brings up the question, how do we share knowledge?  What gets us talking about what we know?  Can the way we approach knowledge sharing change or limit our learning?  Bev Wenger-Trayner (2016) proposes that communities should ask questions “about what is NOT known” to start the conversation.

As I started thinking about the CoPs I have been a part of, a common theme was that knowledge sharing started with a shared problem.  The conversation did not initiate with an answer or a response but inquiry and dialogue about a problem that someone did not know how to solve.  In some cases, other community members had experienced the same problem and shared a resolution that worked for them.  In other cases, a connection formed out of the shared experience.  A deeper discussion, and ultimately learning, happened because of the focus on the problem and the inquiry that emerged.

As we examine the challenges with sharing knowledge, are we looking at it in the wrong way?  What level of inquiry are we using when we try to share knowledge?

I invite you to ask these questions and more as we explore CoPs on November 12th!


Categories Blog, Uncategorized

2 thoughts on “Sharing Knowledge

  1. I love this reframing of the way that CoPs are used in knowledge management. A lot of our case studies on knowledge management start with asking “What do we know?” “How do we capture that knowledge?” “How do we share that knowledge?” But in my personal experience I have had much more meaningful experiences in sharing experiences and gaps in knowledge. It’s almost like that saying “Misery loves company” but instead of misery it’s confusion! By sharing points of confusion or gaps in knowledge, people can come together to share the knowledge that they have that is tangentially related and walk away with a deeper understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bev Wengner-Traynor encourages starting with the conversation with “what is NOT known”. But how many times have we heard the expression: ” You don’t know what you don’t know”? I believe a CoP has to set a level of trust from the very start, so its members can freely admit, without judgment, “I don’t know …” Let’s assume you have other members who can fill those knowledge gaps and share points of confusion, as Dawn describes. How do you keep CoP members from “peacocking”? That is, positioning themselves as superior in their problem solving skills, overpowering or intimidating others. A successful, vibrant CoP is one whose members have mastered the ability to be appreciative in its inquiry and search for knowledge sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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