Communities of Practice

There are many employee communities and councils at UM . Find one where you belong--or start a new one!

What is a community of practice?

  • Communities of practice differ from informal networks in that a specific topic or point of interest compels people to make time for regular interactions with others.
  • Communities of practice provide opportunities for face-to-face interactions that most people find to be not only helpful and instructive, but meaningful.
  • Building relationships and making connections are a valuable result of participating in a community of practice.
  • Communities of practice are organic efforts that should be cultivated rather than forced.
  • Each community of practice has its own particularities and life cycle based on its leadership and the needs and availability of its members.

What do you need to start a community of practice?

  • A committed leader or leadership team to cultivate the group.
  • A common purpose or point of interest.
  • Members who are mutually engaged and want to share knowledge or experience.

Tips for running a community of practice

  • An engaged leader is critical and that leader knows it’s all about cultivating an engaged group.
  • Continuously check in with the members to make sure they are getting value from the group. Ask them what they want to focus on. Spend some time getting to know each other.
  • It's different than attending a class or training. Everyone should be committed to sharing and learning from each other.
  • Put an emphasis on establishing relationships and a network. Create a team of colleagues that members can turn to with questions and ideas.

Join or Start a Community of Practice

Being a part of a community of practice can help you improve your work and create a supportive network of colleagues. See this list of existing communities and councils at UM.

Do you have an idea for a new community of practice? Write to Jasmine Zink Laine for logistical support and ideas about how to get started.