Communities of Practice

The last book I read was called “Communities of Practice,” it was quite compelling because it discussed how people learn in informal groups that are bound by a common set of ideals or goals.  It was remarkable because much of education today is driven by somewhat rigid and formal processes that take place.  An example of a Community of Practice (CoP) would be a group of runners.   Many runners run by themselves or perhaps with friends or family.  However, in stores such as The Running Room, they have set up clubs where strangers are bound together by a common sense of purpose.  What is of interest to anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists are the cultures, individual psychology and group dynamics that takes place. This CoP, lets strangers learn from each other through participation and reification (gathering of artifacts and making concrete sense of them).  The imagination and engagement that is formed by this group is all bound by a sense of alignment.  Bonding takes place as does camaraderie, members lend each other support as well.

So what does this have to do with branding?  Everyday, people are inundated with messages from advertisers that equate to noise.  I mean how many times have you been annoyed by irrelevant messages?  I would suspect quite a bit.  Now, with the formation of CoP, companies can appeal to people’s tendencies to want to belong in a community and a group.  Also, by the immersion and interaction amongst the members of community, only create a richer experience for them.  The brand is able to help people realize their goals.  Example could be The Dove Campaign for Beauty.  This became a resource center for women, where they can support each other and help educate other women about accepting their beauty.  The Nike world run is another example of a CoP.   Leading up to the run, participants are able to train together with other members by tracking their times as well as coordinating schedules.  The online forum truly acted as a support mechanism, where members are able to participate and reify their experiences through engagement, imagination and all bound by alignment.

Can you think of other examples of CoPs?

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