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Seb Anthony

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Can there be only one culture in an organisation or would a communities of practice approach act as a catalyst for change?


As part of my MA I am reasearching communities of practice and how this approach would impact on the culture and values of my orgnaisation (local authority employing 11500 people) and transformational change. There are several cultures operating in the various departments, but the senior management team are advocating one organisational culture
Does anybody have any experience of implementing communities of practice (within a large organisation).
Margaret Glossop

2 Responses

  1. Can you have a culture?
    Hi Margaret,
    Good luck with your research. I did a small “cultural sample” for a university assignment a couple of years ago. The results indicated that culture is individual, whilst some parts of culture were team/company wide. I found individuals sometimes quite different interpretations of company “culture” Whilst I agree certain aspects of culture can be influenced how can you influence individual interpretation of the planned organisational culture?
    Just a thought but may be worth considering.
    If you wish to contact me please feel free at [email protected]

    Best wishes


  2. CoPs and org culture
    I guess it depends on what “one organisational culture” means to senior management. If they mean a set of organisation wide core values; customer service culture; workplace health and safety culture, then a community of practice around those sorts of things could be effective. My experience is that ven core organisational values need to be “interpreted” by the various areas across an organisation…. what do these mean to us; for us; what behaviours do we value around these values and are willing to work towards.

    Effective communities of practice need shared purpose; arrive at core goals; be dynamic; within organisations need a high level of trust established as they bring together people from a wide range of “levels” and expertise. I have been involved with such groups around core organisational initiatives and they work best when they have designated support (especially in the early days;) when there is an explicit agenda about forming the group to explore who they are, what their purpose is, roles and responsibilities; establishing good communication mechanisms; and creating norms around sharing, communication; openness etc. They are also only effective when people join a CoP voluntarily.


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