Wenger qualifies a “community of practice” as a balance of mutual engagement, a joint enterprise, and a shared repertoire. While the interactions of the humans discussed in his chapter on community are specific to claims processors, I read it in the context of a theatre company; theatre companies, groups, or organizations are all communities of practice. Providing that individuals decide to be part of some sort of collective, relationships form between the individuals, the individuals have their own unique qualifications that supplement their peers’ qualifications, and a model of power, influence, and change is acknowledged, the community in question is one of practice.
This psychologically insightful analysis of community objectifies the scary, and sometimes unpredictable, nature and happenings in collaborative communities. Wenger mentions that collaboration is not implied, but the communities that he describes can only thrive if there is participation, in/with groups, which is collaboration.
The section about joint enterprise really spoke to me. For three years I have served as the President and Artistic Director of Pocket Theatre. One of my jobs is to assemble teams of individuals with the intent to collaborate, so examining shared repertoire is a crucial part of determining who gets to mutually engage. I recently worked on a production; tensions were high, arguments were not uncommon occurrences, and productivity was often slowed by those two things. The lack of mutual accountability caused every issue. Because Pocket Theatre is a student organization, all individuals involved with our projects are students; holding students accountable for anything extra-curricular is a nightmare.
So, here is my “original question”: How can we hold students accountable for the responsibilities that they take on in the extra-curricular setting? (Note: it is sometimes more effective to keep an inefficient person on a team, and correct work, than firing that inefficient person and replacing them.)
In the diagram above, communities of practice are contained within larger communities of practice. Crews are their own communities, but they report to supervisors / designers who exist in a larger community. (The communities nest further, going all the way up to the board of directors.)