Some connections are inevitable. Given enough time and networking, some people are bound to meet and find that they share a passion. For more than a decade, the three of us had been working with communities of practice in our own ways. Etienne had been involved in the original research at the Institute for Research on Learning as well as some early work at Xerox and National Semiconductor; he had also written a seminal book on communities of practice. Richard had been building “learning communities” for a dozen years at companies such as Ben & Jerry’s, Shell Oil Company, and Hewlett-Packard, as well as writing articles and developing tools to help change agents build such communities. Bill had found the concept in Etienne’s dissertation ...

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