Communities of Practice
"Communities of practice (CoP) are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly".
What a CoP is?
An identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Members have a commitment to the domain, engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. Members interact and learn together. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. Members of a community of practice do not necessarily work together on a daily basis, but interactions are essential to making them a community of practice. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools and ways of addressing recurring problems. A CoP nurtures knowledge and promotes innovation.
What a CoP is not?
A CoP is not merely a club of friends or a network of people, it is not merely a community of interested people who like certain kinds of things or issues. A website in itself is not a community of practice. Having the same job or the same title does not make for a community of practice.
How does a CoP become operational and successful?
A group of people sharing a common interest or passion needs to be able to interact and share ideas, experience, problems and solutions on their topic of shared interest. Coordination and leadership are essential as is recognition and status in the community. The work of community building must ensure that participants have access to the resources necessary to communicate, learn, practice and make decisions that fully engage their own capacity.
Without granting due recognition, there is poor participation, the success tends to remain literal and procedural and coordination tends to be based on compliance. Crucial to the success of the CoP is the role of highly skilled "brokers", who facilitate the exchange process. The job of brokering is complex as it requires enough legitimacy to influence the development of a practice and mobilize attention.
The GCP has developed a strategy for implementing CoPs for the IBP that builds on these principles.