Communities of Practice
What are Communities of Practice?
"Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or passion for something that they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly" Wenger, 2006
They do not have a uniform look or shape, but are made up of a group of practitioners with a shared interest.
Communities develop their practice through a number of activities including:
- Problem Solving
- Requests for Information
- Discussing Developments
- Mapping Knowledge
- Identifying Gaps
What Elements Are Needed to Develop A Community of Practice?
- Domain - the definition of the area of shared interests and of the key issues.
- Community - the relationship among members and the sense of belonging.
- Practice - the body of knowledge, methods, stories, cases, tools and documents.
What are the Guiding Principles for Developing A Community of Practice?
- Design for evolution.
- Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives.
- Invite different levels of participation.
- Develop both public and private community spaces.
- Focus on values.
- Create both familiarity and excitement.
- Create a rhythm for the community.
How are Communities of Practice Being Applied?
The concept of Communities of Practice are being applied in a number of areas including:
- International Development
- Social Service Sectors
In the social sector, there is a focus on building communities among practitioners to support peer-to-peer connections and learning opportunities.
Wenger, 2006; 2004
Why Focus on Communities of Practice?
Adapted From Wenger, 2006
- Help with Challenges
- Access to Expertise
- Fun with Colleagues
- Meaningful Work
- Personal Development
- Professional Identity
- Problem Solving
- Time Saving
- Knowledge Sharing
- Synergies Across Units
- Reuse of Resources
- Strategic Capabilities
- Keeping Abreast
- Retention of Talents
- New Strategies
Wenger, Etienne. (June 2006). Communities of practice: A brief introduction.
Wenger, Etienne., McDermott, Richard., & Synder, William. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Wenger, Etienne. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.