Communities of Practice: are defined as : ‘the process of social learning that occurs and shared sociocultural practices that emerge and evolve when people who have common goals interact as they strive towards those goals’. (Wikipedia)

There does not seem be in any doubt – our economy and that of the entire globe is going through pretty strange times. One of the features of this ‘global crisis’  is the amount nations are trying to collaborate. The penny has finally dropped, political and business leaders seem to be realizing that we are all in this together. When it comes to ‘throwing’ there isn’t an ‘away’ anymore. Everything that is thrown lands somewhere, usually in another nations backyard.This applies just as much to economics as it does to refuse.

At the same time enlightened employees of business organizations are realizing that if their company is going to make it through the tough times ahead, then everyone is going to have to get engaged.  But this is more than “everybody get behind and push” – as Jonas Salk pointed out – “Our future evolution will not decided by the survival of the strongest but by the survival of the wisest” .

And this brings me to my real point – to be the ‘wisest’ we have to start tapping into our collective capacity and this is why I say it is time we started ‘Getting Clever Together’. Communities of Practice (often called CoP) are a brilliant social invention whose time has come.They existed long before we named them – bacteria have been using use the principles behind CoP for over 3 billion years, so I guess the model has held up to the test of time. When I am speaking to business audiences I often make the point that it’s time we got as collaboratively smart as bacteria – but we do have a lot of ground to cover.

Never have we needed each other more (considering all the systemic threats facing us) and never has our ingenuity and resilience been more tested. CoPs enable us to craft deep wisdom around important competencies in a dynamic and adaptive fashion. There is literally no end to where they could take our larger social structures.

Companies that embrace the CoP model and are willing to support them with the necessary resources now, will be those that are able to emerge on the other side of this planetary challenge smarter and stronger.