Lilia Efimova’s diagram clearly illustrates how a Community of practice distinguishes itself from a work team in that it goes beyond the structured boundaries of the team to seek out others with a common class of problems. That said, it is still semi-structured in that it is not driven by a common pursuit of solutions.

Efimova's team, community and network communication diagram

Team communication is heavily shaped by the shared goals and agreed communication formats/processes. It’s very much about getting things done together and strong ties that needed for it.

Communication in communities is a bit further from actual work, but still has lots of connection with it (e.g. Q&A mode, where one uses an opportunity of being together with other experts to ask for solutions for a problem). It’s usually a mix of stronger and weaker ties that help to open up and share local practices. There is enough commonality and trust to hold people together and enough diversity to support learning.

Network communication is more opportunity-based and informal. There is not much in terms of shared goals and recurrent conversations, the ties are weak or latent. However, there is enough connectivity and opportunities to communicate that result in cross-fertilisation and emergent ideas and practices.

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