A CoP is a group of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in the area by interacting on an ongoing basis. The key behind a CoP is the sharing of knowledge. Within successful models of CoP’s the sum of the knowledge becomes greater than the sum of individual participant knowledge.
Some of the most recognized characteristics of a successful CoP are:
- They connect people who may never come into contact otherwise.
- They provide a shared context for people to communicate and share information.
- They enable dialogue between people who have an interest in solving the same or similar problems.
- They stimulate learning by serving as a vehicle for communication, mentoring, coaching or self-reflection.
- They capture and diffuse existing knowledge.
- They introduce collaborative processes and encourage the free flow of ideas and information. They help people organize around purposeful actions.
- They generate new knowledge.
- They create a space for working together which pushes practice forward and keeps it in check; creates and directs social energy; spurs action and gives it focus; invites new ideas and sorts them.
- They create an environment for all stakeholders to share and have voice, all are equal in creating knowledge.