Not really a ‘talk’ as such, but I was delighted to be selected as a guide for CodeCraftConf ‘18 where I had the opportunity to host a guided conversation about Communities of Practice.

Unfortunately, the notes I made on the day have been lost to time, but I’ve included my conversation prompts below. Feel free to use these to guide your own conversation, or to reflect on your own personal experience with Communities of Practice.

And let me know how you get on!

A Guided Conversation about Communities of Practice


  1. What do you understand by the term “Community of Practice”?
  2. The term originally referred to the community atmosphere created by apprenticing and mastering a trade, how does that relate to Communities of Practice as we experience them?
  3. What makes it a Community of Practice rather than something else in the same vein, e.g. Community of Interest, Social Learning Space, Centre of Excellence?
  4. What makes Communities [of Practice] “successful”? What are your experiences of useful metrics?
  5. Can any of these metrics, or others, be used as early indicators of likely future “success”? What are warning-signs for future challenges?


  1. What techniques, practices, or rituals have you seen that help make Communities accessible for newcomers while still being valuable and interesting for experts?
  2. Diversity challenges – what approaches have you seen used to make CoPs inclusive and welcoming to diverse members (e.g. race, gender, neuro-type)?
  3. Cultural challenges – what approaches have you seen used to make CoPs inclusive and welcoming to people from diverse cultural backgrounds?
  4. Scale challenges – what approaches have you seen used to make CoPs successful at scale? What’s a “minimum viable” size for CoPs? What about “Maximum viable”?


  1. How do you practice? What is the most interesting way to practice that you’ve seen?
  2. One goal of CoPs is to hone skills on both a personal as well as communal level. As participants and facilitators, how can we contribute to this goal?
  3. Have you seen any examples of CoPs generating knowledge in addition to sharing and discovering it?
  4. Engaging in a collaborative, social learning process of “thinking together” is core to CoPs. What techniques do you have for inviting others to join you in a social learning activity? How can you invite someone to join you in an ad-hoc social learning activity?
  5. Participation Inequality Principle - 90:9:1 rule - and how to mitigate it? What can the whole community do to decrease the participation inequality?

Close - Epiphanies and Compliments

  • Did you get what you came for?
  • What did you get that you didn’t know you needed?
  • Who would you like to thank or compliment for their contributions to this conversation?