Communities of practice take many forms
Communities of Practice differ widely in both name and style in different organisations. CoP takes many forms and knowing these variations is vital as it helps the people to identify the CoP irrespective of the different guises and names. The first skill of the community development is to be able to"visualise" the communities of practice. They are as different as the situations which bring them into existence and the people who will populate them. The CoP can be small or big. If it is small and intimate then it involves only a few specialists whereas the others consist of hundreds of people. The largest CoP will have more than one thousand members. The size of the communities do matter and the very large communities are structured differently and is usually sub divided by the geographic region or by the subtopic in order to encourage all the members so that they can take part actively .
Collocated or distributed
Practice sharing requires regular interaction and many of the communities function among the people who will work at the same place or live nearby. Many of the communities of practice are distributed over wide areas. The scientists have been long forming the communities of practice which are communicated across the globe. Previously they corresponded through letters and now it is through e-mail. Some of the communities meet regularly at a fixed date and time while others will be connected basically through e- mail and through phone and also meet only once or twice a year. This kind of shared practice allows the members to share the knowledge irrespective of the forms of communication.
Homogeneous or heterogeneous
Some of the communities are homogenous which means it is composed of people from the same discipline or function. Others will bring together people with different backgrounds like people from various functions who will have to deal with a big customer or a certain country. It has been found that it is easier to start a community among the people with same backgrounds but when there is a problem in common then it becomes a strong factor for building a shared practice among people who share little information. And also people with different backgrounds might end up being as closely bonded as people who have started with a lot in common.