Key enablers of COPs depend upon the three elements of COPs: domain, community and activities. For instance, if one of the key activities is to share success/failure real experience among engineers across various SMEs, probably passionate stewards and physical space for gathering together become very important. If you want to share daily activities among sales managers in different branches, you may need collaborative virtual workspaces. The following are distinctive enablers for COPs: • Stewards: Key people — who have passion for the area and are willing to take care of the COP — are the most important component of any COPs. • Incentives: In general, you do not need artificial incentive, such as money or promotion. Instead, spontaneous motivation for continuous participation is essentially needed to sustain active COPs. Answers to problems that participants face, growth opportunities or just intellectual fun would be important. • Physical/virtual spaces: Since COPs are social, they need spaces where members can interact. It does not necessarily mean that COPs require exclusive rooms. It could be even virtual space if it can meet participants’ needs. The important aspect is that the centre of COPs is human relationship built upon trust, and COPs require spaces where they can nurture such a relationship. • Information Technology: Some COPs do not require any IT, whereas IT is a key platform to share knowledge and do key activities for other COPs. Again, it depends on the three elements of COPs (domain, community and activities). • Management’s support: If a COP has strong strategic purposes for an organisation, management’s support is an important enabler. The support not only allows participants to understand the importance of COP activities but also gives sufficient resources. If a COP has more spontaneous nature, too strong management support sometimes even harms motivation of members as they might think it is too controlled. In this case, the best support from management would be “hidden sponsorship” that accepts activities of COPs.
You can even form COPs to share common skills and knowledge across your company: among workers at various SMEs to create a knowledge cluster.