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About Communities of Practice

All you need to know about Communities of Practice work at UCL.

What are Communities of Practice?

Communities of Practice (CoPs) bring people together from across UCL who perform similar functions, work in defined practice areas, and need to build similar capabilities.

CoPs use a grassroots model to help staff collaborate and improve their practice areas, share best practice, and enhance service delivery.

CoPs formed the first Transforming Our Professional Services (TOPS) project in 2017. Due to their success, they are now part of business as usual based in Organisational Development (UCL Human Resources) led by Therese Johns (Communities of Practice Manager).

As of May 2022, there are 22 CoPs at UCL with around 2000 members.

CoPs benefit UCL by bringing together staff from both central services and local academic areas, regardless of line management structures. They can collaborate, share knowledge, solve shared problems, and develop their practice area.

Each CoP has 2-4 Leads who are responsible for making sure the CoP reaches its goals. The Leads work with the CoP's Sponsor, who provides top level recognition for the CoP by ensuring exposure, support and strategic visibility. The CoP can have any number of Core or Wider Members who drive the CoP's activity and work together on projects. 

What does a CoP actually do?

CoPs typically run projects that aim to develop or improve an aspect of the practice area. The project could aim to tackle a common problem or introduce a new approach for the practice area. 

The CoP should also run regular events. CoP Leads organise dedicated Lunch and Learns or other learning events to upskill their members and share knowledge. Core CoP Members attend regular meetings, usually at least once a term, to discuss their practice area and propose activities for the CoP.

CoP Leads meet with the CoP Sponsor regularly (recommended every 6 weeks minimum) for guidance and support.

Our CoPs also thrive in a dedicated online space (usually Microsoft Teams) with informal chats, connections and knowledge sharing happening on a regular basis.