Why do practitioners need a community?

  • Help each other solve problems: If you belong to a community of practice and you face a difficult challenge, you can turn to your community for some help or advice. This is a very important source of value for members, knowing that there is a group of people who will understand their challenge and be able to brainstorms some ideas to address it that come from experience in practice.
  • Hear each other’s stories and avoid local blindness: It is so easy for practitioners get caught up in the day-to-day routines of their local context. They really value hearing stories from people in different contexts because it opens their horizons and new possibilities
  • Find synergy across structures: Imagine a community of web designers who realize that they can reuse templates across government agencies.
  • Keep up with change: Many people rely on their communities to keep them abreast of new developments. In many fields today, things move so fast that no practitioner can keep up with it all alone.
  • Reflect on their practice and improve it: Some communities do this routinely, sharing ways of doing things and looking for improvements.
  • Build shared understanding: For example, members discuss research in order to gain a collective understanding of what its promise is for their community.
  • Cooperate on innovation: Sometimes, practitioners really need to invent something new in order to solve a problem they have. A community of practice is a good context to find others interested in a similar innovation.
  • Find a voice and gain strategic influence: For example, staff find a collective voice in the organization to comment on policy documents. Sometimes, this kind of influence is a strong motivation for forming a community.