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Communities of practice (CoPs) are groups of people who share an interest in P3 management or an aspect of P3 management. The goals of these communities are to:
- share information that helps individuals to develop their skills
- help the profession to collectively evolve and improve.
There are three aspects of a community of practice:
- The domain.
- The community.
- The practice.
The domain is the common interest. It could simply be P3 management but there are many examples of more specialised communities of interest, such as risk management or value management. The domain may also refer to a business sector (e.g. construction, IT, local government, pharmaceuticals, etc.) or one large organisation.
The community refers to where the CoP draws its members from. There are international, national, regional and local communities of interest. Obvious examples of these are the national and international professional bodies, such as the International Project Management Association (IPMA), the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and the Association for Project Management (APM). Some communities are loosely bound by their membership of social media groups.
The practice is the way that the community shares information on its chosen domain. This could range from formal knowledge management within an organisational CoP to loose discussion groups on social media. In between these two are all manner of communities that may meet to exchange views, organise continual professional development (CPD) events, publish newsletters or even offer accreditations.
The nature of CoPs varies widely but all share the objective of transferring knowledge and developing skills. Other benefits of a community include:
- promoting the professionalism of P3 management;
- providing a focus for professionals who are often isolated from day-to-day contact with fellow professionals;
- the motivational effect of being part of a community of like-minded individuals;
- innovative thinking that comes about through shared experience;
It is all too easy for communities to be set up with enthusiasm and then fade away through lack of support. Where an organisation sets up a community of practice as part of its commitment to the discipline and profession of P3 management, it must recognise that the community will need corporate support and on-going commitment in terms of financial support and allowing P3 managers time to take part.