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Teams, communities and networks in terms of communication forms

Communication in co-located and distributed teamsWhile I came with the communication egg model to talk about things missing in distributed teams I feel that it could be useful in more contexts. In particularly to talk about the differences between different types of social constructions in the knowledge management context.

[At this point it makes sense to go and read Shrunken communication in distributed teams (the egg of communication 🙂]

One of the things I came up when playing with different ideas was to position teams, communities and networks in respect to the most prevalent forms of communication in each case (in all cases the other forms of communication are there as well, but are not at the core of it).

Core communication types for teams, communities and networksTeam communication is heavily shaped by the shared goals and agreed communication formats/processes. It’s very much about getting things done together and strong ties that needed for it.

Communication in communities is a bit further from actual work, but still has lots of connection with it (e.g. Q&A mode, where one uses an opportunity of being together with other experts to ask for solutions for a problem). It’s usually a mix of stronger and weaker ties that help to open up and share local practices. There is enough commonality and trust to hold people together and enough diversity to support learning.

Network communication is more opportunity-based and informal. There is not much in terms of shared goals and recurrent conversations, the ties are weak or latent. However, there is enough connectivity and opportunities to communicate that result in cross-fertilisation and emergent ideas and practices.

I guess the things on the diagonal could be also about the types of communication that is supported by specific managerial practices (performance – knowledge management/professional development – informal learning/innovation) or social tools (groupware – community tools – social media).

You can also use this framework to think on what is needed in terms of moving between different types of social constructions: e.g. moving from network to community by picking shared interests and adding a bit of structure (rhyhm, roles) or community-born projects, where shared goals and even more structures (e.g. deadlines 🙂 appear to make sure that things get done. In the opposite direction you might think of “usual” KM practice of spotting overlaps between teams and establishing semi-structured community spaces and processes to make sure that practices are shared across and going to networking events or sharing one’s traces online to create opportunities for informal interaction that brings new contacts and new ideas.


Does it make any sense? I’m actually more happy with the picture than we the text around it, but anyway all of this stuff is thinking in progress, so hopefully will eventually evolve into something more understandable.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Kare Anderson April 17, 2011, 18:29

    I call this the sweet spot of shared interests: “heavily shaped by the shared goals and agreed communication formats/processes”

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