Communities of practice (CoPs) have become a hot topic in the past few years. They are an excellent tool for developing skills, sharing tacit knowledge, and shoring up retention of high-performing staff. But they differ from teams and other types of groups in many ways. Understanding what CoPs are and how they work—rather than just looking at how to create and manage them—is critical to supporting their success.

This session will take a look at the definition and function of communities of practice; examine how successful CoPs work; explore research around the critical CoP issues of learning, meaning, and identity; and identify strategies for nurturing and supporting successful CoPs. This session draws from academic literature on CoPs and offers an evidence-based view of the topic.

In this session, you will learn:

  • What a community of practice is and how it functions
  • From research on what works, and doesn’t work, in CoPs
  • How to nurture and support a CoP
  • From examples of successful CoPs


Novice to advanced designers, developers, project managers, and managers.