3x5 Leadership Community of Practice_1

Would you consider your organization and the people that comprise it as a learning organization? Personally, as a member of the US Army, I absolutely believe that we strive to be a learning organization. Amidst the myriad of ways that organizations can establish themselves as a learning one with systems and methods to do so, I want to address a critical question to you: what, then, are you doing to contribute to your organization’s learning? In professional networks, this is called “building a community of practice.”

A community of practice is a group of people who are bound together by the passion of some thing or practice, and desire to learn how to do it better as they regularly interact. Would you consider yourself a member of a community of practice? I argue that in reading this and subscribing to 3×5 Leadership, you are a member of a community of practice for organizational leadership, working to improve your organization and your life through leadership.

So, how are you contributing to your community of practice? There is a difference between being a member and actually contributing; the community is only valuable, and the organization is only learning, if its members are contributing.

A great way to contribute is to share your experiences and the lessons you learned from them by writing. As I state in my 3×5 Leadership goals, my experiences are singular, but the lessons from them certainly are not. I am no more qualified than you to write and to contribute. Thus, I challenge you to consider contributing to your / our community of practice and to your own learning organization. Communities and organizations need depth and variety of experience and ideas; yours are just as valid as mine and anyone else’s. Ultimately, as a professional, I actually consider that we all have a responsibility to contribute, which is easily done through public writing.

What to Share

The biggest obstacle I find that others face when considering writing is what to actually write about. Bottom line, share what was most relevant to your experience! It doesn’t have to be the most profound issues or insight. We all can learn something from different experiences. Consider sharing specific experiences or lessons regarding key successes achieved, challenging failures or crucibles, best practices, or even regrets. During your experiences, maintain a list, document, or journal to capture those valuable insights to enrichen your writing contribution with helpful detail later on.

Where to Share Your Writing

The platforms to share your insight are nearly endless. There are numerous leadership-oriented blogs that welcome guest posts (to include 3×5 Leadership!). Further, there are many professional journals and publications that thrive on guest contributors such as Harvard Business Review, Military Review, and Army Magazine. Even more specifically, most professional fields have their own professional publications; personally, as a US Army engineer, I consider the Army Engineer Magazine. There are forums that exist specifically to build a community of practice such as the US Army’s Junior Officer Forum, Center for Army Lessons Learned, and Army University Press.

Examples of Others Contributing to Their Community of Practice

Finally, I wanted to share examples of others contributing to our community of practice to inspire you to consider doing the same. These below examples are focused on US Army officers sharing their insight on key developmental positions based on their rank and personal experience. Ultimately, these insights are often generalizable across professions and industries. For non-military readers, you certainly can do the same for your profession, field, and even within your specific organization.

Battalion Commanders

Field Grade Positions (Majors)

Company Command

Lieutenants and Platoon Leadership

So, how can you contribute to our community of leadership practice? I encourage you to get out a 3×5 index card and start brainstorming ideas!

If you are interested in sharing lessons from experience, consider sharing it on 3×5 Leadership! Find out more here.

The ideas and resources shared in this post my personal thoughts and recommendations only. They do not necessarily reflect that of the US Army or Department of Defense.

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