This rather sad rise-and-fall progression for a community of practice was published by Tom Stewart in "The Invisible Key to Success" in Fortune magazine, 5 August 1996, and was adapted from work at Shirley Corporation. It represents what commonly happens to communities that become over-managed.
Communities of Practice.
Creation of Community of Practice
Community of practice meets for the first time
Community begins to develop innovation through shared insight and problem solving. Group begins to attract organizational attention.
Senior manager becomes intrigued with the community of practice and begins to attend meetings. Manager offers to act as advocate and acquire resources for the group.
Manager begins to dominate the session with questions-the meetings begin to focus less on sharing insights and more on educating the manager regarding the community's area of expertise.
Manager obtains corporate funding, proposes instituting ROI metrics to track performance.
Community of practice dissolves. Members cease to attend meetings.
The moral is, if there is that much senior management engagement, you don't need a community of practice, you need a community of purpose - a very different animal altogether.