Paper Analysis – “Communities of Practice, A Start-up Kit (2007)”


Sauve, E. (2007). Communities of practice. eLearn, 2007(4), 2.


  • The start-up process
    • Preminiaries (identify the champion and the sponsor, pick a focal point, i.e problem, practice area, process; prepare a business case, present a proposal, select/enlist members, get organized
    • Start-Up (set the agenda, i.e. interests/issues, problems, goals/outcomes;   devise interaction modes, i.e. email, face-to-face meetings, virtual/online meetings; confirm and secure support requirements, get underway
    • Behaviours and Activites (share experiences and know-how, discuss common issues and interests, collaborate in solving problems, analyze causes and contributing factors, experiment with new ideas and novel approaches, capture/codify new know-how, evaluate actions and effects, learning
    • Shut Down (a shutdown decision can be made by the CoP members or the sponsoring management if this was a sponsored CoP
  • The CoP Life Cycle
    • Committing – someone decides a CoP would be a good thing to do and sets about doing it
    • Starting Up – the CoP purpose is framed, members are selected or recruited and roles are negotiated
    • Operating – The CoP members share knowledge, solve problems, build skills annd improve their practice
    • Winding Down – the value of membership and the value of the organization diminsh over time as problems are solved and the practice improves
    • Shutting Down – the purpose is fullfilled and little or no value remains to be had; the members and/or the organisation decide to shut down
  • General Guidelines for setting up CoPs
    • Keep things simple and as informal as possible – it is not a project team
    • Rememeber that the members of a CoP are there to serve their own work-related ends as well as the organization.
    • The success of a CoP hinges on trust between and among its members
    • Stay focused on the primary purposes of the CoP – to learn from each other as a result of sharing and collaboration
  • Indicators of a Community of Practice
    • continuing mutual realtionship
    • shared way of doing things together
    • a rapid flow of information between and among members
    • quick diffusion of innovation among members
    • conversations get to the point quickly
    • problems are quickly framed
    • a fairly braod consensus among the members about who is in and who is out
    • a widespead and shared awareness of each others competencies, strengths, shortcomings and contributions
    • an ability to assess the effectiveness of actions taken and the utility of products produced
    • common tools, methods, techniques and artifacts
    • extensive use of “war” stories to communicate lessons learned
    • a shared, evolving language
    • behavior patterns that signify membership
    • perspectives relflected in language that suggesr a common way of viewing the world

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