Communities of Practice (CoPs) are an important part of the devolved model at Shelter
These networks of practitioners are involved in the continuous optimisation of the digital framework, which sets out the landscape in which they can do their work, and how they can work together.
CoPs are cross-organisational groups that are non-hierarchical and long-term, and focus on how to accomplish something rather than what it delivers. They can define best practice, create learning opportunities, reduce duplication, or be used as support networks.
If your role has a digital element to it, you’re expected to be part of a Community of Practice. It’s a great way to be inspired, build relationships, and learn from each other. It's also a chance to make sure all teams are involved and aligned.
Importantly, they are a safe space to share knowledge and help practitioners in different teams to stay aligned.
Communities of Practice focus on how to accomplish something rather than what it delivers.
At Shelter, we define Communities of Practice as:
A network of practitioners of the same discipline who meet regularly to share, develop and define their practice.
Who constitutes a practitioner?
A practitioner is someone who practices the discipline professionally in their role at Shelter, rather than just having an interest in it.
Communities of Practice in action, and their leads
Our current working CoPs and their leads (as of January 2022) are:
Content - Eleanor Young
Product - Caspar Below
Data & Analysis - Sam Berger
UX - Amy Everett
Development - Neil Dakeyne
Accessibility - Lizzie Nightingale
If there’s a community of practice you would like to join, you’re welcome to contact one of these CoP leads.
'Generally each UX practitioner works in a different product area in Shelter, so coming together to exchange thinking and develop documentation as a Community of Practice ensures that we include the needs of all the teams and user groups we work with across Shelter. For things like accessibility, this helps us move away from the idea that this is one person’s or team's responsibility to manage.'
Caylee Farndon-Taylor, UX Lead (February 2021)
Roles and responsibilities of Communities of Practice at Shelter
As well as being used as a knowledge sharing and development space, CoPs at Shelter have an organisational responsibility to create and co-own the working principles, guidelines and standards for all our digital products.
The Communities of Practice groups also own success metrics, and should define how their discipline measures success.
All CoP groups report to the Digital Leadership Group (DLG), comprised of senior people from across the organisation who steer Shelter’s digital planning.
Outcomes and format
CoP groups will aim to achieve the following outcomes:
Practitioners from across the organisation brought together with a shared purpose
Sessions focused on sharing or doing
Opportunities for collaboration
Build conversations between teams across the organisation who practice the same disciplines
All groups follow a similar format:
Each session will have a facilitator, a theme, and a focus
Activities will include (but are not limited to) workshops, presentations, demos, group discussion, evaluation, and clinics
Membership will extend to practitioners only, rather than to everyone with an interest
Communication will be via a formal email group and dedicated Slack channel
Setting up new Communities of Practice
All new Communities of Practice groups must be approved by the Digital Leadership Group.
'I’ve been designing things in an attempt to make people's lives better for a little over 10 years now. Yet on my own, or from behind my desk, I am nowhere near the level of knowledge and efficiency that a diverse community brings in the face of complex societal problems.
‘Shelter’s UX Community of Practice (UXCoP) is a thriving space of insight that leads to innovation. It’s where a blank canvas of a practitioner scratching their head becomes proficient in everything from facilitation skills to complex process and service visualisation.’
Nate Sheach, Senior Content Owner, Scotland (April 2021)
More from a CoP master
Learn the lingo
Read our digital glossary
Contact us about the digital framework
Have a question or comment? Found a bug? Or maybe you’d like to contribute to the framework? Use our contact form to get in touch.