The value proposition of a CoP is in increasing the effectiveness of its members. A community does not hold a collective performance objective with the business but allows each member to deliver better against his or her own individual performance objectives, by giving them access to the knowledge base of the community.
Specifically the community offers
- Help in solving problems
- Faster learning
- Access to experience and expertise
- Access to proven practices
Membership of a CoP should pay its way. If you don't get benefit from being a member, then the CoP is not working. Many communities have voluntary membership on this basis, and it serves as a self-regulating mechanism.
If the community adds value to the members, the old members stay, new members join, and membership grows.
If the community does not add value to the members, then members leave and the community dies.
It's as simple as that.