According to Wikipedia, a “community of practice” is “a group of people who share a craft and/or a profession.” You can try to imagine one by reading some formal definitions, or you can visit the beach on Pawleys Island at afternoon low tide.
There were a number of people fishing there the other day. There was a retired senior executive from a Fortune 200 company. There was a preacher and a judge and several people who were fishing because they’d go hungry otherwise. There was Benjy, who claimed to be an expert on all the good fishing spots and sounded like he knew what he was talking about. And, there was a tall man with a pony tail who didn’t say much, but caught more fish than anyone else.
If you looked at what those people were wearing, you’d get some clue about their relative social status. But that would fade into the background if you listened to the conversation.
Then, the talk was all about fishing and doing it better, social status was about as irrelevant as it gets. The conversation moved over lures and live bait and the best spots and times to fish. Everyone shared. Everyone asked questions.
That’s how the best teams work. They’re mission-focused. They work hard at doing well and doing better. They support each other. They talk a lot about the work.
Boss’s Bottom Line
You want a team like those people fishing the surf on Pawleys. Concentrate on the mission. Talk about the work. Strive to do better. Support each other.