Learning objective

After reading this component you will understand what a community of practce is and where it can be applied. You will be aware of the benefits and will be able to to recognise some characterictics of a community of practice as well as follow some basic and practical steps in order to form a COP. It will take 40-50 minutes to go through this module including a short task


In 1988, when Japanese competition was threatening to put the Chrysler Corporation out of business, no one suspected that the resurgence of the company would depend in part on the creation of an innovative knowledge system based on communities of practice. While some of its competitors took as little as three years to get a new vehicle to market, a typical new-product development cycle at Chrysler easily lasted for five years. This was no way to compete.1
Communities of practice are everywhere. We might all belong to a number of them-at work, at school, through our hobbies. Some have a name, some don’t. Some are recognisable while some remain invisible. But why should organisations focus on them? Why are they of such great value?
Knowledge has become the key to success. It is simply too valuable a resource to be left to chance, it needs to be supported and nurtured. We need to understand how and what kind of knowledge will give companies a competitive advantage. Cultivating communities of practice in strategic areas is a practical way to manage knowledge as an asset, just as companies manage other critical assets. They need to keep this knowledge on the cutting edge, deploy it, leverage it in operations and spread it across the organisation2.

1 Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, William M.Snyder, 2002, “Cultivating communities of Practice”  
2 lbid 



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