Tuesday 7 April 2015

What are the 'communities of practice'?

"Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning." Gloria Steinem 

We live in an evolving and unfolding universe. We see change at tremendous rates. The early 20th century started with the Wright Brothers flying a plane a short distance. Before the end of that century we were not only flying to the moon but landing on it. We live in a world of paradoxes. She is dynamic and at the same time fragile The world is interconnected and yet divided. The world is technologically accelerating and yet poverty, disease and war remain. Wall Street and poor neighbourhoods exist in the same state. This is our world with all its mess, marvels and mystery. It is beautiful, frightening and engaging. And it's all interconnected in some way with ourselves. As Carl Sagan, the astronomer, said: "The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are all made of starstuff."

Our organisations and services reflect a similar paradox. We see great service, innovation and kindness on wards and in communities. Yet there are financial worries and the awful episodes that inhabit our systems and cultures. In this complicated and complex setting there is an interesting phenomena to be sensed and seen. Across the NHS and other services new movements are arising. New energies are flowing across our systems. These networks and alliances are creating new ways of seeing and doing health and care like new seeds. They are focussed on people and putting people first. They embrace digital technology, are values driven and work intuitively as well as rationally. In a wintery time for the services we love there are signs and sources of hope and renewal. They are the summoning of spring.

These new movements take many forms and shapes. One of the most promising and fresh forms are the 'Communities of Practice'. What are 'Communities of Practice'? They are many things and no one definition exhausts their mission, role and possibility. One way to see the communities is as centres. They are centres of sharing. People who both work in and use services come together to share stories, experience and practice to develop deep dialogue and learning. From these encounters and co-learning arises a new form of shared wisdom and meaning.

They are centres of energy. They are spaces where we meet to explore issues and support each other. They are a terrain where freedom, connection and respect must be central. We hope these communities will be wellsprings for all who seek kind, better and effective cultures and practice. They are centres of life. Life and work should not be competitors or opponents. Through 'Communities of Practice' we can grow as people and workers. We seek personal and corporate development through the communities. In this way we seek to model how systems and services can be and indeed should be. In this way the communities are both dream and gift.

We invite you to join these communities, alliances and networks. Explore with us and work with the communities. Together we can make a difference. If we wish to learn and grow together we have great potential within us to create, despite everything, a future that works and cares for everyone.

Visit the Co-Creation Network website for information or watch an animation about the network here

John Walsh. York Street Health Practice. Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust
Angela Green, Improvement Academy.
Jane Pightling, Yorkshire &Humber Leadership Academy
Lucy Scarisbrick, Yorkshire &Humber Leadership Academy  

1 comment:

  1. Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavor. It is a very interesting and informative article about "Communities of practice".

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