This Guest paper was submitted for publication and is Copyright to T. Kippenberger (2005).
Published here October 2005.

Editor's Note | What is a Community of Practice? | Knowledge Management
Communities of Practice | The Three Elements | The Benefits

Tony Kippenberger, MBA, is Director of the Centre for Strategic Business Studies - which he founded in 1993 - based in Hampshire, UK. He is also editor of an online Community of Practice for Project Managers In his early career, Tony spent 17 years with the Financial Times before moving into senior level management development and strategy consulting. For five years he was editor of an international management magazine but now focuses on research and writing on management issues (his latest books Leadership and Leadership Styles were published by Wiley Capstone in 2002). He can be reached at

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."[1]

Etienne further suggests that some of the Critical Success Factors for a Community of Practice:

  • Includes an energetic core group
  • Involves experts
  • Encompasses details of practice
  • Has strategic relevance
  • Has visible management sponsorship without micro-management
  • Includes both formal and informal structures
  • Is supported by adequate resources, and
  • Promulgates a consistent attitude

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., (accessed 8/25/05)
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