Type:   Service

Delivery Method:  Group Facilitation

Service Description:

Communities of Practice (CoP) is still a rather novel term in human services that comes from the human resource and organizational change literature in the private business sector. The idea behind CoPs is that there are natural mini-communities or ‘watercooler cultures’ throughout all organizations that can be tapped and guided to thrive as learning engines if certain principles are followed: 1) focus on a joint enterprise (e.g., learning MI);  2) mutual engagement (avoid hierarchy like the plague); and, 3) a share portfolio of terms, techniques, mind sets and learning resources. In a CoP each person is responsible for their own learning.  JSAT and other purveyors are determining that CoPs are a critical, albeit largely informal piece to quality improvement and sustainability.

These informal, peer-facilitated gatherings generate a long term multiplier effect that deepens and preserves MI skills over time. That means that the organization will see value from its investment with an MI training that expands and ultimately is self-sustaining. CoPs foster fun and enthusiasm in a team with shared leadership and accelerated learning that develops practitioners who are assertive and passionate about their MI skills.  JSAT thrives in assisting organizations in starting and maintaining such gatherings.  Activities might include debriefing recent or difficult interactions, brainstorming MI responses for challenging situations, real-plays/role-plays, listening together to recorded MI sessions, and various skill practice exercises. An added bonus from JSAT’s supported communities of practice consists of leveraging the energy that stems from the participants as they share concerns or a passion for M.I.  The end result is an accelerated progression toward MI competency, faster and better than can be attained individually.  This progression finally translates into a profound sense of ownership of such competency by the organization.


Organizations that impel and maintain CoPs derive an overall positive financial impact in the long term from the MI training investments that it made: the organization’s capabilities are expanded as learned skills deepened and preserved over time, the number of skillful practitioners grow, and the impacts on clients are more significant.  In particular, these organizations benefit from:

  • The substantial difference in skill scores of CoP participants vs. those with training & coaching alone that CoPs generate.
  • The multiplier effect that CoPs generate over time that 1) expands the number of people with high-competence or mastery level of fidelity and 2) promotes long term endurance.
  • The productive communication and interaction and the community context for the M.I. practice and skills.
  • A progressive detachment from external support (consultants) that is, building self-sustainability for the development and maintenance of MI skills.
  • The ownership inducement thus strengthening the adoption of the MI practice into the organization’s culture.
  • The advancement that seasoned participants experience through teaching, mentoring and answering questions to less experienced ones.
  • The accelerated learning for newcomers who in turn, are expected and have the opportunity to participate even if new.
  • The mastery level of fidelity in the practice of MI that is eventually achieved by all participants combined with the knowledge about the specifics of the organization that results in a customized practice.
  • The advantage for newcomers to the MI practice derived from learning from more experienced people with abundant specific, relevant examples, while at the same time, learning and embodying the language.
  • The fun and enthusiastic climate that prevails in CoPs in its approach to skill development and the drive for participants old and new to become assertive & passionate about the MI skills all of which contribute positively to the overall organization’s morale.

Why JSAT?   

  • For CoPs, JSAT utilizes an MI booster and an assessment baseline.
  • JSAT facilitators reduce the trainees’ resistance in the same way they are being trained to reduce resistance from their future clients.
  • JSAT’s coding is far more specific than that of other consultants, and coaching and CoPs build on such specifics .
  • JSAT’s JSAT specialized in reducing trainee resistance and its training process and material is user friendly: acronyms are avoided, content has been simplified through  distillation to what is essential.
  • From a client organization’s standpoint, JSAT is more desirable than other suppliers are because customer organizations benefit from enhanced sustainability of its workforce skills and receive more value for the investment (ROI)
  • JSAT provides extensive EBP inputs into MI training, coding, coaching and CoPs, thus attending to increasing requirements by funding sources and legislative directives.
  • JSAT offers services in a customized fashion to each client’s needs.
  • JSAT’s approach features continuing opportunities for each CoP participant to bring his/her expertise, ideas, input and creativity to the group. JSAT”S CoP approach also ensures that each participant feels ownership of the group and plays a key role.   JSAT suggests the following roles to be played within a CoP: Coordinator, Topic-of-the – Long Day Facilitator, Time Keeper, Note Taker, and Supporting Resource.  Members of CoP get to choose their Agreements by which they will abide during their meetings. JSAT will offer advice to designing an adequate set of Group Agreements.
  • There is no centralized leadership in a CoP.  Therefore, JSAT provides a description of the roles that each of member in a CoP can play. Templates are made available by JSAT to follow during the initial meeting and for ongoing meetings. JSAT will also be available to customize everything to suit the client organization’s needs.

Technical Description:

A Community of Practice, or CoP, is an informal, peer-facilitated gathering that convenes regularly to consolidate and continue learning and practicing skills that were acquired during training and follow-up coaching sessions. Activities for a MI CoP might include debriefing recent or difficult interactions, brainstorming MI responses for challenging situations, real-plays/role-plays, listening to recordings together, and various skill practice exercises.  Within CoP, groups of people share concerns or a passion for M.I in monthly 2 hour meetings: something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.  Three characteristics are crucial:

  • What it is about— its domain: its joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiated by its members
  • How it functions— The community: the relationships of mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity
  • What capability it has produced— The Practice: the shared repertoire of communal resources (routines, sensibilities, artifacts, vocabulary, styles, etc.) that members have developed over time.

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