In a knowledge management initiative where communities of practice are used to create and validate best practices, it’s possible to use a lifecycle approach to formalize the creation process, using something along the lines of peer reviews used in science. Formalizing what is typically a more casual approach can ensure the best organizational benefit/learning from the results of an activity or event. The process might be something like this, adapted to the type of information to be reviewed and the working style of the community:
Capture. Depending upon the norms of the community, write a description of the scenario, the environment and parameters of the problem/situation, the objective of the actions, the participants, the action steps, and the results. Include information about what caused the situation to be normal or abnormal, and the names of participants, as well as the contact information for the person designated to be the primary correspondent related to the proposed “best practice”. Describe enough of the problem to help any later readers understand its scope and complexity.
Disperse. Once the story is written, distribute the draft to key reviewers. At a minimum that should be people in the community designated (usually who volunteered) to review and comment on best practice drafts. Don’t forget to include people who actually participated in the situation being described, since they may have other relevant details or different points of view about what occurred and how the process unfolded.
Review. Create a standard operating procedure for reviews. For example, if you distribute the draft in Microsoft Word format, ask reviewers to use “tracking” so all their changes can be seen and considered (or rejected). If the draft is a Powerpoint presentation, then making comments in the bottom section of the screen viewed in “Notes” format can work. You may want to consider setting up a standard for commenting, for example, a designation for a comment that indicates how strongly the reviewer believes his/her change should be made. Be sure to indicate in every draft distributed when and to whom the comments should be submitted.
Consolidate. Designate one person to consolidate all the remarks/comments on the draft into a final, official version. Post the final version to the entire community, as well as to any reviewers who may be outside the community.
Blogging and/or wikis can also be useful in the distribution and review steps since these tools facilitate group editing and commenting; however, the person assigned to consolidate all comments on the best practice needs to have the final say over what the end product contains.