`What are the common challenges which your organisation is facing with Communities of practice?

Last post 02:29 am January 1, 2020
by Mark Adams
3 replies
02:27 pm December 30, 2019


I am optimistically trying to get some responses on the challenges which organizations are facing in starting, growing and sustaining a Agile CoP, which I believe will help fellow Agilists to tackle agility related impediments and collobarate better in their organisation.

I am starting with few common categories listed in Wenger &  McDermott book 

1) Connections within Organisation (including knowing people)

2) Visibility for Scrum Masters

3) Lack of Agenda/Purpose

4) Lack of Promoters

If you have another category, please do mention the number and the title ex: 5) New category

Hoping to hear back:)


09:41 pm December 30, 2019

5) In my experience the best way for a Community of Practice to succeed is for people to start ones that are needed. You are attempting to start something that you see as beneficial. But have you actually identified a specific area that would benefit from one or are you just trying to do something because you read it has been useful to others? Let me share an experience.

We had a person that was newly titled as Agile Coach.  They decided that our organization would benefit from Communities of Practice.  This individual started creating meetings for Communities of Practice that they felt were needed, inviting people to meetings.  The result was that no one attended more than the first meeting because the people invited saw no benefit.  The Agile Coach tried again with a different set of Communities of Practice that they found listed somewhere on the internet.  Again, nothing came from their efforts and Communities of Practice quickly died.  

Four months later, our company was undergoing a major infrastructural change that impacted multiple products.  The development teams decided that it would be beneficial to have a dedicated time and place for cross product teams to discuss and agree on practices to undertake the change and integrate it into the various products. This became the first successful Community of Practice and the accomplishments that were derived from it spawned other similar communities.  And there even sprung up a few "social" communities that were completely unrelated to the products we built such as the Pokemon Trainer's Community of Practice. True this did not aid the companies products in any way but it did serve to bring the company employees together and forge better relationships.

Those successful communities would never have occurred if the Agile Coach had not introduced the concept.  So if you want to be successfully introduce Communities of Practice, I suggest you introduce the concept and then facilitate others in the forming of actual communities.  As a Scrum Master you have skills in building teams and facilitating productive gatherings.  That is how you will make the biggest impact. 

07:16 am December 31, 2019

Thanks Daniel for your response. Can I take the freedom to categorize the above as "3.Lack of Agenda/Purpose"? I agree with your thoughts and starting a community is best left with community itself :) 

02:29 am January 1, 2020

In my experience, people are excited about Communities of Practice when they are first launched, but with time, the attendance dwindles. 

You should have two platforms for CoP. An online (like Slack, MS Teams, Confluence, etc.) and at least monthly gatherings, preferably with food (have video conferencing for remote participants). 

Keep it consistent (time and place) and make the discussions lively with videos and short workshops. Make it fun!