A community of practice is a group of people who share similar interests, knowledge or experience in a certain domain and they work together to learn more about it. They share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.
It is not simply a club of friends or a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Members of the community engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information.
The CoP is defined by:
Domain– share the same passion, the same level of interests
Community- engage with each other in different discussions
Practice- practitioners, as a group have knowledge, tools, stories, experiences or solutions
The combination of these three elements constitutes a community of practice. And it is by developing these three elements in parallel that one cultivates such a community.
Online communityAn online community is pretty much the same thing as CoPs- a group of people with common interests who use the Internet (web sites, email, instant messaging, etc) to communicate, work together and pursue their interests over time. The main difference of communities of practice is that online community are not limited to dedicated members, whereas with communities of practice, face-to- face communication is expected. Online communities are based online and the communication between members is internet base.
Cops and their relevance to business strategy
A community of Practice is relevant for the business strategy because they can improve internal communications and knowledge sharing, developing a practice though a variety if activity which provides benefits for the business strategy such as
- Problem solving
- Requests for information
- Seeking experience
- Growing confidence
- Discussing developments
Benefits & Limitations of online communities and COPs to businesses
- Creation of Knowledge repository
- Knowledge sharing across organisations- with each member having more knowledge in a particular thing than another, it can help to speed up the process within the group
- Knowledge sharing across organisational units improving employee satisfaction, performance and retention
- Facilitates change and flexibility of innovation and creativity
Some of the limitations are:
- Implementing CoPs successfully are very time consuming, which may be a limited resource for certain business owners.
- The gain from CoPs most of the time can’t be measured, so organizations might be reluctant to implement them.
The final point is that although there are limitations for online communities and COPs to a business the benefits are much greater. Interesting enough, now that I am introduced to the concept of CoP’s, I personally consider this idea as quite beneficial and an important tool for a business to strengthen its social value by giving the opportunity to all members for knowledge sharing.
This is it for this week:) I hope you liked this topic as much as I did!
Thanks for reading 🙂
Annabi, H. & McGann, S. T. (2013). Social media as the missing link: Connecting communities of practice to business strategy. Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce, 23, 56-83. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.massey.ac.nz
Gelin, P. & Milusheva, M. (2011). The secrets of successful communities of practice: Real benefits from collaboration within social networks at Schneider Electric. Global Business and Organizational Excellence, 30(5), 6-18. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.massey.ac.nz
Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com