• Our world is getting more complex as everything gets connected.
  • Complex problems require more implicit knowledge, which cannot be codified.
  • Implicit knowledge can only be shared through conversations & observation.
  • Collaborative and distributed work is becoming the norm.
  • Knowledge-sharing and narration of work make implicit knowledge more visible, especially in distributed work teams.
  • Transparent work processes foster innovation.
  • New ideas come from diverse networks, often outside the organization.
  • Learning is part of work, not separate from it.
  • Communities of practice enable the integration of work & learning.

So what is a community of practice? Maybe we should start with what it is not:

  • It is not a help desk filled with subject matter experts.
  • It is not a work group, or even task focused.
  • One is not appointed by management to join a community of practice.

Some characteristics of communities of practice:

  • People want to join them.
  • They usually have a higher purpose, that one person alone cannot achieve.
  • People feel affinity for their communities of practice.
  • There are both strong and weak social ties.
  • You know you are in a community of practice when it changes your practice.