Promoting and Growing the Community of Practice

Dr. Andrew Makar is an IT program manager and is the author of the Microsoft Project Made Easy series. For more project management advice, visit the website TacticalProjectManagement.com.

Once the Community of Practice is initiated, the organization needs to promote and nurture the COP’s growth. Self-directed teams vote with their feet, and if the COP doesn’t provide value, attendance will quickly diminish or team members will suddenly become “too busy to participate”. Since you don’t want your COP to go immediately from the “potential” stage to the “memorable” stage, the following tips will help develop and grow the community of practice.
 
Growth Tip 1: Ensure the organization legitimizes participation in the COP
The COP sponsor is critical in championing the self-forming organization and ensuring the larger organization supports the COP by recognizing the effort required to develop and build a community of practice. The sponsor should encourage managers to allow their team members to participate in the COP and recognize the value these communities of practice provide to the organization. We all have work to do; however, spending an additional hour out of the work week on the COP is a well-invested hour to help move the organization’s project management maturity forward.
 
Initiating and building a community of practice is an exercise in organizational change management. Sufficient time and visibility needs to be provided to recognize the benefits of a community of practice and provide …

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