Article

How Your People Can Benefit From Building Communities of Practice

3 February 2017 | Anikh Subhan | About a 2 minute read
Tags: Academy, Agile, communities, CoP, Learning


What is a Community of Practice?

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group of like-minded people who collaborate, in order to share knowledge and experiences. Generally, the aims of a CoP are to discuss different thoughts and ideas, which help with creating efficiencies within an organisation, whilst also developing areas of expertise. Emily Webber (author of “Building successful communities of practice”) says that; “Communities of practice can support people, build capability, reduce the duplication of work and build better practices”.

 

Why do we have them?

 

In any organisation, it’s important for people in similar disciplines to disseminate knowledge. Individuals learning from each other’s experiences, enables people to develop their own skills and further their insight. Being a member of a CoP increases a person’s commitment to continuously learning, which is essential for career progression.

 

Additionally, learning something new, challenging or interesting, should be fun! CoPs are an ideal forum to make these topics fun to learn, to those that are passionate about that particular area. Whether it’s through an engaging talk, an interactive game or debate-style exercise, CoPs try to emphasise the enjoyment in seeking knowledge.

 

How do they work?

 

Each CoP should be based on a need or demand. If there is a need for knowledge sharing around a topic, then it will be easier for the group to self-organise their CoP. Similar to having a common goal; it gives the Community a shared vision, enabling them to focus on consistently gaining value from the CoP. A CoP also works best when it’s self-organising and run by the people in the Community themselves. That way, they get to decide what they want to talk about, which keeps it very relevant to the wants and needs of the people consuming the information.

 

The CoP should meet regularly so that they build momentum in order for them to grow and continuously evolve. The regularity is up to the Community to decide, but depending on size, generally once a month is a good frequency for an established CoP. The CoP should be encouraged to meet face-to-face, so they gain the full value of the CoP’s interpersonal communication. As a CoP matures, members can join over Video calls once the CoP’s culture has been built.

 

What we hope to achieve…

 

At AND Digital we have a real emphasis on Learning and Development. Through this, comes a unique culture where people want to get together to collaborate, share knowledge, cross-skill and progress. We have a responsibility to provide the best platform and environment for our people to do this. Whether it’s budget, space, materials or time – paving the way for effective Communities of Practice will benefit everyone. Not only will CoP’s improve learning, communication and growth across the company, but we hope that it also attracts the candidates and clients who share this mission for long-term learning.

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