Seems there are a number of avenues to explore here.
Let's start by looking at what we mean by 'new knowledge'. For me this takes us beyond information sharing,
(although this may result in new knowing for individuals) knowledge is produced
when new worlds are brought forth, when we make sense of our environment, when
claims are socially validated and meaning is negotiated & shared.
New knowledge starts with the adoption of different frames / schema / ontologies / concepts by the community. In essence, the group will bring forth a 'new world' through their physical interactions and dialog. Ed Schein points to surfacing individual and group assumptions as the key to reformulating models and frames. He advocates for action research and involvement with the group to co-design new ways of thinking and acting rather than 'forcing'interventions
There are a large number of practices than can assist with knowledge generation. Here are some that work for me:
Mining past experiences for patterns that show the 'best' solution to repetitive issues, participating in pattern writers workshops to surface, document and validate such patterns, arranging patterns in hierarchical level (structural coupling) and crafting a pattern language to improve group communication and recognize gaps.
Making key distinctions: calling attention to subtle differences that make a difference, making the group aware, sharing signs, assigning names and sharing meaning around new conceptualizations. Distinctions can evolve into more formalized patterns with the recognition of repetition, addition of context, specification of forces and solutions and validation.
Sharing ontologies: developing agreement and sharing the meaning behind key concepts, bounding a discourse domain, deciding what is 'in' and what is 'out', surfacing relationships between and giving names to concepts and abstractions.
At a higher level the community needs to engage in practices such as language experimentation, building prototypes, teaching each other, structured inquiry, group reflection. They can recognize idea generations, i.e. time delimited, divergent - convergent - summary - critique - consensus formulation, and use this to bootstrap the next generation [Engelbart].
Part of these practices can be to record rationale, structure a corporate memory around key issues, capture 'as is' key situational descriptors and answers as Paul suggests in his descriptive enumeration, [DE] practice.
There are a number of affordances that can help here. Facile annotation, interactive (living) repositories, intuitive navigation, privacy gradients, many to many communication, persistent conversations, shared (situated) spaces, instant notification and presence detection.
Before any community can make use of these practices, there must be some 'attractor' to support alignment, encourage engagement, allow the formation of trust and to help with the formation of both group and individual identities. The ability to hold identity in check, engage in creative abrasion, enter deep dialog and having permision to fail forwards, is far more influential than any technological affordance.
This 'innovative social capital', as Mark McElroy calls it, is helped by having a shared purpose, empowering policies, leadership that walks their talk, open communications, equal access to information of market conditions and customer contacts.
Knowledge generation in communities requires a balance, it is not for the faint-hearted or for those with frail or ultra-strong identities, it requires hard work, empathy and a continuous thirst for learning. CoPs are formed through self-selection, many come, but very few stay to form the core, teach the periphery, build quality knowledge, and generate true innovation or really new knowledge.
Innovation may come from a variety of sources e.g. problems & issues (internal or external to the firm), from scanning the environment, from identification of gaps and deliberate attempts to fill them, from a strong group desire for learning, from a drive to be 'the best' or a vision to be the market leader, or the most flexible firm in an industry segment, or a policy to have 30% of revenues derived from new products each year......
Behind all this, knowledge generation is fundamentally a social human pursuit, an art, a tacit elixir, a fine balance and much mystery.