Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… An organization aligns its operation around business products with cross-functional teams focused exclusively on each one. The business likes the focus, but soon people start to complain. Functional experts feel isolated and aren’t able to tap into their technical peers now isolated in other teams. Common practices become difficult. Functional managers feel left out now that their people are permanently assigned to dedicated cross-functional teams. Overall, the organization gains benefit from the re-alignment, but people can’t help but feel they are neglecting their institutional knowledge and have reduced their technical capacity to solve problems. You might think we’re talking about an Agile development team, but actually we’re talking about Chrysler in the 1990′s when they re-organized their engineering around auto lines. (Wenger et al, Cultivating Communities of Practice 1) This session will explore the concept of communities of practice and how they are a vital component for agile organizations. From providing tactical support in issue resolution, to being stewards of knowledge across vast enterprises, and even helping create support for the larger organizational change, communities of practice are a vital component in improving organizational agility. We will walk through the history of communities of practice, from their emergence in fields as disparate as auto manufacturing, consulting, and oil exploration, and show how these concepts apply to agile organizations. Participants will hear several cases about how communities have been used at our actual clients to help support the organizational change, as well as get some tactical steps they can use to implement their own communities of practice at work.