Editor's Note: The concept of a Community of Practice grew out of the idea of knowledge management and the learning organization. One of the early leading lights is Etienne Wenger who observes:
"The term "community of practice" is of relatively recent coinage, even though the phenomenon it refers to is age-old. The concept has turned out to provide a useful perspective on knowing and learning. A growing number of people and organizations in various sectors are now focusing on communities of practice as a key to improving their performance. Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly."
Etienne further suggests that some of the Critical Success Factors for a Community of Practice:
This description clearly fits the domain of project management. So, if project management is to progress, indeed, if it is to survive beyond just being another management fad, we had better sit up and take notice. We need to strip away the constraining chains of bureaucratic control espoused and exercised by classic membership organizations and move forward with enlightened thinking.
Tony Kippenberger explains communities of practice in greater detail.
1. Wenger, E., http://www.ewenger.com/theory/ (accessed 8/25/05)