How many people does it take to make a community of practice?

Image comparing crowd size at Trump inaguration and Obama inaguration

What is the critical mass for a community of practice? That is the question that struck me when I read Not everything that connects is a network (Hearn and Mendizabal, 2001).

I try to foster a community of practice at work in an area that is important but not core business. The result is a lot of people being involved in the group but not many participating.

Hearn and Mendizabal argue that “networks are indigenous to any situation or environment; they exist before an initiative comes along and will exist after an initiative has closed down” and that:

networks are not panaceas and are not suitable in all situations. The suitability of a network strategy needs to be interrogated carefully before investments are made, particularly as a network could prove more expensive than an alternative strategy.

I find this an interesting perspective and I am possibly in more of a curation role than one of being in a community of practice. Having read Popova’s article on the role of curation, I know that this is an important role as well.

Over time I will attempt different strategies to try and gain critical mass in and reach a fully fledged community of practice.


  1. Sam I take heed of the warning implicit in Hearn & Mendizebel….you can expend a lot of time and effort trying to synthesise a CoP but sometimes they just lack the key magic ingredient. BTW….When you work out what that is do you mind sharing???


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