Incubating communities of practice thru projects

Posted by  Mark Schenk —March 17, 2006
Filed in Collaboration

ProjectI was reminded last week that projects provide great opportunities to develop communities of practice.  No surprises really, with all that project time and effort spent consulting with stakeholders, reconciling divergent positions and building relationships to effect a meaningful change.

But many opportunities are missed to create communities of practice as part of project or project-like activities – communities that can maintain the project ‘domain’ once the project is declared complete and the project team dismantled.  Communities of practice provide the cross-organisational structures that can help maintain the changes introduced by the project.  Our organisations undertake many ‘projects’ that develop bodies of ‘practice’ – often very good ones. The reality however; is that they start dating from the moment they are published and progressively become less accurate and relevant and useful, until someone decides that a new project is needed to revamp the body of practice.

With a different mindset and a few extra resources, communities of practice can be nurtured as part of the project.  In many cases, these communities can undertake much of the maintenance work need to keep the body of practice up-to-date and useful.  Of course, projects can also be undertaked with the express purpose of building a community of practice.

Kathy Kuryl from the Tasmanian government pointed out a great example of this last week.  The Tasmanian government undertook a project to improve the practice of project management. An impressive and tailored set of resources were developed that have been well received across all Tasmanian government departments. A cross-government community of practice has also been nurtured that plays a a major role in maintaining and improving these resources.  Go to to see the results and output of this project.

Mark Schenk About  Mark Schenk

Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on:

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