top of page

What is a Community of Practice?

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a common concern, problem, or an interest in a topic and who come together to fulfill both individual and group goals. 

If you're new to Performance Excellence, it is not a function, department or a person. It's a "team sport". To implement effectively, you'll need to engage both leaders and workforce to achieve the full alignment and integration sought by higher performance. Think of it as a rowing team, all working together seamlessly to achieve the highest velocity across the water. To achieve higher performance, it takes designing and evaluating not only the outputs, but the entire system as an interconnected series of functions working toward a single goal.

Rowing Crew

Stages of Development & Benefits

Community of Practice-Stages of Development.jpg

Organizational Learning, is a core value of Performance Excellence and includes both continuous improvement of existing approaches and significant change or innovation, leading to new approaches, products, and markets.  Therefore, Communities of Practice can be applied within a single or multiple organizations to manage knowledge assets. The benefits of a Community of Practice Model are:

  • Ideal channels for creating and moving information — such as best practices, tips, or feedback across organizational boundaries

  • Effective for preserving the implicit aspects of knowledge that formal systems cannot capture. For this reason, they are ideal for initiating newcomers into a practice or reinforcing the organizational "culture" and values

  • They can steward competencies to keep the organization at the cutting edge.  Using a collaborative inquiry approach, members find being part of the group valuable as they invest their professional identities in being part of a dynamic, forward-looking community important to the organization's success

How do PENW's Community of Practice work?

  • Communities of Practice meet monthly from September to May for 2 hours

  • Each session reviews a key organizational system (e.g. Customer, Workforce, Strategy) and the current outcomes of performance within the system

  • PENW presents best practices from national & regional high performing organizations

  • A team or small teams within the organization research and "self" assess the organization's current practices to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. Next, they discuss next steps and develop action plans to implement improvements

  • At the following session, the team reports their learning to peers to align and integrate the new systems or improvements within the organization

  • This process is repeated monthly systematically model how the organization can define, implement and monitor cycles of learning and improvement toward the goal of higher performance

  • Critical note: these are team-based "doing" sessions, and are not for listening and observation only. Teams within the organization are expected to be actively applying their new knowledge and learning within the organization throughout the program.

  • Need help determining if Communities of Practice are a good option for your organization? Grab a 30 minute session with PENW's Executive Director to discuss this and other options to help your organization along its improvement journey.

If you wish to move away from "traditional" silos and evolve your key organizational systems and norms for higher performance, then Communities of Practice may be for you! 
Become a PENW Members and
begin organizing your team today!
bottom of page