Community of Practice - Explained
What is a Community of Practice?
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What is a Formal Committee?
Formal Committees have regularly planned formal meetings with predefined patterns. The participants of committees are the same persons who are designated based on their official functions and hierarchical positions. Formal committees tend to bring control and standardization, and the issues involved are also more related to governance and conformity. Formal committees cannot provide such an environment that facilitates learning and self-improving.
Formal committees serve better in situations that require a lot of preparation and involve a certain level of details, formal recommendations, and decision makings with supporting evidences.
What is a Community of Practice
A community of practice was formally defined by B. Collet (2018) as an alternative work-group structure to a formal committee.
Communities of practice, undertake spontaneous and continuous interactions are in favor, thus minimum formal administrative effort is involved. The participants usually voluntarily join the communities based on their expertise and interest. People are encouraged to share their expertise naturally and spontaneously, which usually leads to the natural emergence of good practices and standards. Communities of practice allow people to make mistakes and provide a perfect platform to share ideas online or face to face informally
Communities of practice serve better in situations where the activities involved require harmonized collaborations, continuous learning, and improvements with mistakes being made from time to time.
Similarities between Formal Committees and Communities of Practice?
Formal committees and communities of practice are similar groups in an organization. They are both made of delegates who collaborate in a transversal way. People from similar functions but situated in different parts of the organization are collected to help make decisions on certain issues or serve certain purposes.
Components of a Community of Practice
- PEOPLE: This is the most essential component, which can be divided into three main types:
- The experts, who have a good knowledge of the practices and still want to learn more and seek for further improvements;
- The practitioners, who utilize the practices and benefit from their active participation;
- The supporters, usually managers who have an important impact on the communities by helping to bring the spirit of openness and identify new opportunities for the practices.
- FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTION: A rather effective way to build trust among participants. It also makes certain discussions much easier and clearer.
- ONLINE INTERACTION: More useful in spontaneous collaboration and rapid information diffusion among numerous participants.
- KNOWLEDGE BASE: Serves as a kind of tool box for the participants to make notes and have summaries, which is an important way to facilitate collaboration to harmonize and enrich the practices.