Learning buddies in Communities of Practice?

We started a conversation at the TestBash Brighton UnExpo about wanting to teach, learn and share experiences year round rather than just at the conference.

So here we are! And if you interested in learning, teaching or sharing experiences about Communities of Practice? Why not connect here with @ThePirateTester, Stefan and others who are also looking to connect!


I keep meaning/wanting to do stuff around this…

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They’re great, it’s something I hope all workplaces think about having.

I see it as taking a Meetup and bringing it into the workplace.


I am involved in setting up a Testing CoP so would be grateful for any ideas

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Happy to help :slight_smile:

Are you just in the process of starting one, or have you already got it going and unsure on what steps to do next?

If just setting it up, how many testers are you looking at including in the CoP?
Are you all based together or spread across multiple sites/working remotely?
Are you intending to start off as the sole leader, or have you got a small group to help with the logistics, encourage others, send invites, etc?
Do you know how often you want to meet for, and for how long? For mine we meet once a fortnight for 1 hour, as people can make room in their calendar for it this way.
Have you got a long term goal of what you want the CoP to achieve? Get everyone able to write a test plan, create and run a Selenium suite, present at a Meetup or even TestBash?
Have you got a set of ideals that you want the community to follow? Or a motto? Our is “We Learn, We Share, We Grow”, and always make sure whatever we are doing follows that motto.

As you can see, CoP’s are something I am passionate about and want to support, so I will help you however I can.

If you are able to watch the videos from TestBash Brighton 2018, Emily’s video is a great one to watch, as well as her book being a tremendous guide. We’ve followed it here, and it’s very readable too.

Feel free to ask more questions, as well as sharing how it all goes, as I want to know how it all turns out!!

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Thanks Lee - its nice to hear from you. We have about 30 testers (20 here at Coventry and 10 in London) - working in a variety of areas agile (including myself), waterfall, automated testing and V&P testing. Basically we have been lumped into a big Engineering CoP but I have been fighting a one-man rearguard to keep some identity for testers by setting up a Testing Community of Interest. At the moment I’m organising most of it myself but am gradually trying to get others involved - we are aming to meet roughly monthly - I do like your motto - I may steal it. I think we are in the same neck of the woods I live in Hinckley and work at Walsgrave. At the moment I just have the free membership - does that entitle me to access the Test Bash videos

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Unfortunately unless they make it free (they generally make 1 or 2 free per event), you will need a pro membership to watch. On the upside it gives you a discount at future TestBashes so it claws the price back.

I’m based near Binley, so not a far trek. If necessary I’m sure we could arrange me coming over to try and help jump start things, share what we did that did or didn’t work, and give an outsiders perspective.

It is a great motto, but I’m biased as I came up with it :wink:

I’d recommend having the first few sessions more than once a month, as the hype around it might get lost between sessions. If there’s any way you have the first few once a week for a month, it drills into everyone what you’re trying to do.

If you want to discuss things in private, DM me on Twitter as it’s easiest on there for me.

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I’ve just started a new job as a Practice Manager, specifically there to work with the Community of Practice to help it be successful (#dreamjob). I would really appreciate any help or advice anyone has, and would also want to share my own experiences on here if they’re useful to anyone :slight_smile:

Hello @drewski060609 There have been a few discussion on this subject over time. Have a look at these links below and good luck.


Hi @drewski060609,

What is the reasoning for creating a community of practice? I’m not asking this to dissuade you, but to make sure you know why you want one, and can sell the idea to others.

What is the community about? What units them? Where I work we have one for testers (which is sadly dying out), another for agile (which is going well), our BA’s have recently started one, and we have others for different developer languages too.

Why should they be a member of it? Simon Sinek’s talk on the Golden Circle and starting with the Why is a great piece to get you thinking on it, which you can use on others. If you don’t know Why the community should exist, then why would they want to be involved?

Related to that, why isn’t there one already? Has no-one suggested it before? Has it been tried and failed? Are they apathetic and don’t want to do anything new, sticking with what they know how to do?

I have written a blog in the past which talked about how we started our first CoP at my workplace (which is scary to think it’s 2 years old!!) - https://thegrowingtester.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/creating-a-testing-community-of-practice/

I’m more than happy to help with any questions you might have, as well as actions I’ve tried, with some working, and others not so much…

Hi Lee - thanks for the link to the blog, will have a read through :+1:

As to why create the CoP, the short answer is it was here when I got here! The slightly longer and more sensible answer is that as a company our teams work on a variety of diverse products with their own specialisms and intricacies. As a company we are growing relatively quickly, and we see our communities of practice as an important way of letting the ‘disciplines’ (testers, programmers, agilists, etc) keep in touch with each other and share learnings from their experience.

Fundamentally though, its about keeping the culture of our discpiline alive as we grow - we want to help those in particular roles within their teams to be able to learn, share and grow with others around the business with similar but different experiences. We don’t want them to feel isolated or silo’d - we want them to feel like they are part of something bigger.

I think the challenge for me personally is I’m coming from a place where we were growing a community of practice from the ground up where there was nothing before, to a place where there is already a well established and (in my opinion anyway) fairly successful one that’s looking to survive the challenges of scaling and increasing in size. Its not about having someone to inspire people to try something for the first time, its about helping to support and enhance what they’re already doing and is a new (and exciting) experience for me

EDIT - have now read your blog, was a really good read thanks for sharing it :slight_smile:

As they already have a CoP, and you want to make sure it grows and scales well, do they do retrospectives for the CoP, so it can make sure it doesn’t veer off course?

Do they have a goal they’re all working towards? As that can help make sure they don’t lose focus, and means if they start to veer off course, they know what they’re meant to be doing. It also helps as if anyone asks if it’s the right thing, it can be measured against the goals.

And I’m glad my blog helped :slight_smile:

Do they do retrospectives for the CoP - yep they’ve been pretty good at doing those
Do they have a goal they’re all working towards - we have a vision statement which has been reviewed and maintained fairly regularly to make sure we feel its still relevant, but I’m about to do an exercise to add some colour to that and work out what the future looks like for us, and what we can do to get there. I still feel like a bit of an imposter in this area so I’m planning on blogging about it as I go to document the approach and thought processes to it :slight_smile:

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