A Community of Practice (CoP) is quite simply a group of people that agree to interact regularly to solve a persistent problem or improve practice in an area that is important to them.
We have been supporting change by bringing people together in Communities of Practice since 2002. Our work is most influenced by Etienne Wenger and Beverly Traynor . We work closely with them and continue to learn from and with them. We probably learn most as we work with our CoPs
Some CoPs are formal...others are less formal. Our Cops are organized to bring decisionmakers, practitioners and consumers into shared work and learning. We think our CoPs create an infrastructure to achieve strategic advantage and sustainable change through multiple perspective and multiple partners.. The important thing about a CoP is building an infrastructure that will enable you and your partner to work and learn together. The topic or issue unites you, the plan for connecting, communicating and doing real work together sustains you!
Learning to engage people is the first and most important step in building a CoP. We are creating a Blueprint for Stakeholder engagement (Ready June 2013) and Modules to help you develop skills in convening CoPs (Also ready June 2013).
In the meantime, here are a few resources that we have used in working with states and organizations as they build CoPs