I had this naïve understanding of CoPs, that there will always be only one dominant identity (location, technology, role, batch, gender etc). But the more closely I observe them, the more interesting they get. In reality conversations in groups get richer only when 2 identities collide, mingle, may be even conflict and disperse.
As I reflect on my own professional life in hostile client locations I have worked from, it starts with the conflict of identities, the typical consultant (aka the devil) versus client (aka been here done that). When I took conversations forward towards any objective even with conflict, trust relationships were always built by default.
So it is with CoPs. Trouble comes when K Managers are given responsibilities of nurturing communities but not necessarily improving the conversation quality. Hugh Macleod, Doc Searls all say conversations can be controlled only by improving them and for that independent thinking from multiple perspectives (hence identities) is necessary and that only smart conversations scale (without the central KM team probably)
If you are a K Manager here is a measurable objective, of the N conversations that you enable (?) or participate, what % of them improved (?) by your action, opinion, setting.
? defined by someone else as always…change this