Communities of Practice

Brief Description:

Communities of practice (CoP) are groups of people who share a passion for something that they know how to do, and who interact regularly to learn how to do it better. CoPs can exist face to face, online, or a mix of the two, allowing CARE to have global CoPs.

Example Applications:

  • Sharing and co-learning about related practices across projects.
  • Learning while doing.
  • Support for practitioners spread across the globe.

Full Description:

Adapted from the CGIAR Toolkit:
Communities vary greatly from each other by membership composition (e.g. very homogeneous or very diverse), dispersion (small and community-focused or international virtual networks), and purpose (very closely-defined or broad and far-reaching). The key ingredients are a community (a set of people) with a defined domain (what they care about or do) who work on the body of knowledge about their practice (their work).

It is tempting to mandate communities, but in many cases communities can better be nurtured into continuing existence. By creating the conditions for communities, they can flourish in an organization. Some of those conditions include: helping people with a shared interest find and connect with each other; securing management support for the time and attention it takes to participate and lead CoPs; recognizing the contributions of a CoP; and providing basic support. Here are some additional ideas in this quick startup guide by Etienne Wenger.


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Related Methods/Tools/Practices:

  • Learning communities
  • Reflective practices

More Information/References/Related Resources:

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