Only communities of practitioners can assess realistically what work and learning practices add more effectiveness, efficiency, and enjoyment to practicing their profession. As those communities mature, they start taking responsibility for jointly evolving their domain of practice. At that point, they become a central force of production; they move from the fringes of value creation into the heart of it.
The main means of production they use is their collective intelligence that is inseparable from their existence as community. What we see here is a new player who is joiningCommons-Based Peer Production and other actors on the stage of an emergent mode of production still in germ form.
One of the oldest forms of human collaboration, communities of practice, is now becoming a rapidly growing form of organisational innovation and OD. It’s not by accident that in the conditions of increasing complexity, coupled with the decreasing effectiveness of command-and-control management, this social life form is gaining a new momentum. It may take a few years for networked constellations of communities of practice to become more widespread, but the trend points in that direction.
Those professional communities cannot become the powerful force of change that they potentially are, without changing themselves. The shift from CoP 1.0 to CoP 2.0 occurs when the hunger for more authentic relationships and soul-nourishing, deeper meaning at work, gain higher priority among community members. The next step on that journey seems to be the communities shifting their identity from professional self-help groups to caretakers of the shared knowledge and distributed intelligence of their field.
What barriers need to be removed to liberate the potential of professional learning communities for organisational and social innovation? That question can be answered only through a systemic, joint action research conducted by the communities themselves and the future-responsive, visionary leaders in business, government, and civil society, who are sponsoring them. If you are one of them and need care about freeing the value-creation potential of your communities, let’s talk; that’s our passion and core competence.