Community of Practice - Agile Frameworks at Scale (2023)

It is said that wise men learn from their mistakes. Those who are smarter learn from the mistakes of others. But the smartest learn from the success of others.

– Adapted Zen Proverbs by John C. Maxwell

A community of practice (CoP) is an organized group of people with a common interest in a specific technical or business area. They collaborate regularly to share information, hone skills and actively work to expand expertise.

(Definition provided by Etienne Wenger in his book Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity[1])

A healthy CoP has a culture based on professional networking, relationships, shared knowledge and shared skills. The CoP, combined with voluntary participation, provides opportunities for knowledge workers to experience autonomy, mastery, and determination outside of their day-to-day workAgile Release Train (ART)[2].

The CoP allows SAFe participants to share knowledge and skills with people across the organization. This open membership provides broad expertise to help address technical challenges and drive continuous improvement. It allows for more meaningful contributions to larger social goalsPursue.As a result, companies benefit from faster problem resolution, higher quality, collaboration across multiple disciplines, and greater retention of top talent.

According to Wenger [1], a CoP must have three distinct characteristics to be considered a community of practice, as shown in Figure 1.

  • field– Areas of common interest
  • practice– Common knowledge, experience and technology base
  • Community– A self-selected group of people who care enough about the topic to engage in regular interaction

Community of Practice - Agile Frameworks at Scale (2)

Lean-Agile principles and practices foster cross-functional teams and initiatives that drive business value creation. Likewise, lean thinking emphasizes the cross-functional organization of people with different skill sets around value streams. But software developers need to talk to other software developers; data scientists need to talk to other data scientists; product owners need to talk to other people's peersagile teamwait. This is essential to take advantage of the different experiences and different types of practical knowledge that different people offer. This promotes manual skills and continuous learning (seecontinuous learning cultureCapabilities article), which helps to introduce new methods and techniques.

Such domain-related interactions are often facilitated by CoPs—informal networks specifically designed for efficient knowledge sharing and exploration between teams, platoons, and the entire organization. Figure 2 shows an example of a role-based CoP, one of the most common types of communities.

Community of Practice - Agile Frameworks at Scale (3)

For example,Scrum Master/Team CoachMembers of different agile teams can form a CoP to share the practices and experiences of building effective agile teams. As acceptance and participation in the CoP increases, topic-based communities such as those shown in Figure 3 typically emerge.

Community of Practice - Agile Frameworks at Scale (4)

The membership of these CoPs may be more diverse. a CoPDevOpsCan attract participants from almost any role in your organization.

A CoP withproduct ownerandentrepreneurCan focus on writing better functions, optimizing to improve the value stream through ART. Another CoP could be established to improve the organization's flow measurement capabilities by establishing a recording and reporting systemtraffic index.If the company takes this technology as a future strategic direction, software engineers can form a CoP to help members cross-train on low-code development platforms. Executives from ART, Solutions Training and Portfolio can form a CoP to better understandvalue stream managementand develop practices your company will follow to better manage itdevelopment value stream.

Communities of practice within organizations

CoPs are very organic and, like most living organisms, have a natural life cycle, starting with an idea for a new community and ending when community members believe the group has achieved its goals or no longer provides value. Figure 4 shows a typical lifecycle of a CoP.

Community of Practice - Agile Frameworks at Scale (5)

A CoP is formed during the commitment phase by a small group of core practitioners who share a common passion and need for a particular field. As shown in Figure 5, CoP members exhibit multiple levels of engagement.

Community of Practice - Agile Frameworks at Scale (6)

Each level is described as follows:

  • Kern team- The core team is the core of the community, responsible for organizing, franchising, marketing, maintaining and operating the community.
  • positive– These members work closely with the core team to help shape the definition and direction of the CoP. This includes defining the community's shared vision, purpose, roles, and engagement, marketing, and communication strategies.
  • Occasionally– These members participate when specific topics of interest are raised or when they contribute to the group. They usually represent the largest group in the community.
  • around– These members feel connected to the community but have limited engagement. These people can be newcomers or people more interested in community activities.
  • transactional– These members are the least connected to the community. You may only connect to access CoP resources or to provide certain services to CoP (such as website support).

People often switch between different levels of engagement and participation over time. The CoP is self-organizing and its members are free to determine their level of participation, unlike other working groups such as tiger teams, working groups and committees. The natural flow of people between communities and hierarchies is healthy. It allows new knowledge and ideas to flow throughout the organization in a manner distinct from, but complementary to, formal information sharing.

How communities of practice work

Because the CoP is informal and autonomous in nature, community members are able to design the type of interaction and determine the frequency that best suits their needs. For developers, this might include hackathons, coding dojos, and tech talks. Other formats may include meetups, brown bags, webinars, and independent communications via social business platforms such as Slack, Confluence, and Jive.

During the operational phase of a CoP, community members evolve through participation in regular retrospectives, similar to those used by agile teams. Core team members focus on maintaining community health by:

  • keep it simple and informal
  • promote trust
  • Ensure rapid communication and common awareness
  • Expand the common body of knowledge developed in the CoP

Ultimately, individual CoPs will complete their mandates, and community members should consider retiring CoPs so that practitioners can devote their energies to other communities. Signs that a community has reached this stage include a steady decline in event attendance, reduced activity on collaborative sites, and community-reviewed posts. When a CoP retires, leaders should use it as a positive activity to celebrate community achievements, recognize key contributors, and encourage continued involvement with other CoPs. Through these celebrations, the CoP experience often becomes part of the company's history, and it is not uncommon for a healthy CoP retirement to spawn three to five new communities.

Facilitate participation in communities of practice

thisInnovation and Planning (IP) IterationsProvides a great opportunity for CoPs to hold formal or informal learning sessions, as well as other events such as coding dojos, coaching clinics, and more.

the role ofLean Agile Leaderis to encourage and support people's desire for progress. This helps companies improve and unleash the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers, such asSAFe Principle #8 – Unlocking the Intrinsic Motivation of Knowledge Workers. CoP represents idealalliance, Tontransparent, respectful,andtireless improvement,described inSafety Core Values.

By facilitating CoP training,Lean AgileLeaders show their support by continually communicating the value of the CoP, highlighting success stories, and recognizing the efforts of community volunteers. Leaders can also support the CoP by providing meeting rooms, logistical support, and funding for meetings, tools, and communications infrastructure.

learn more

[1] Wenger, Etienne.Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity.Cambridge University Press, 1999.

[2] Pink, Daniel H.Drive: The Surprising Truth About Our Motivations.Heyuan Publishing House, 2009.

[3] Remote Consulting Company.Practice Starter Kit Community.2000。

Last Updated: November 18, 2022

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