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SAFe promotes Communities of Practice (CoP) as groups of people who have a common interest in a specific technical or business domain and actively get together to sharpen up a set of skills.

LeSS promotes Communities of Practice as groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis.

Based on the above, one can then infer that the objective of a CoP is the same between SAFe and LeSS: Make sure knowledge flows in a horizontal (non siloed) way.

Finding reliable links for Spotify model isn't as straightforward (happy to receive suggestions on comment session). In a Google search, the unique entry talking about Chapters (that's not a blog entry like medium or other company-specific entries) is from Atlassian website. The link shows the distinction the model makes between Guild (cross tribes) and Chapter (within tribe).

Now, if one abstracts the differences between the terminology on how people is grouped (teams, trains, squads, tribes), it seems to be the underlying objective of a CoP is the same of a Chapter (or Guild, for completeness). Is there any sound reference that says otherwise? Are there other concrete aspects where CoPs and Chapters (or guilds) cannot be considered different names for the same concept?

ps.: I couldn't find any reference in Nexus framework talking about neither of them.

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    I think that fundamentally they are all the same thing, with the purpose of sharing knowledge and experience so that you don't risk reinventing the same wheel in different parts of your system when you have scaled so much that the distance between teams is large and hurts visibility. BTW, I never could understand why instead of converging toward some common sense practices that are known to work, we diverge and invent all sorts of frameworks with all sorts of parts that need to be named differently each time and with a name that sounds cooler and more impressive than anything that came before
    – Bogdan
    Aug 20 at 9:37
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A good description of the Spotify Model is available on the Spotify Engineering Blog (part 1, part 2). The description of Chapters and Guilds begins in Part 1 at around the 7:30 mark and ends around the 9 minute mark.

Like a Community of Practice, Chapters are aligned with competencies. However, the Chapter lead is also the person's line manager. A person is only in one chapter since they only have one manager. The Chapter structure does promote growth and development in a particular set of skills.

The Guild is much closer to a Community of Practice. It stretched across Tribes and isn't connected to the line manager. It also allows people from outside a role in that particular competency area to join and develop new skills or cross-pollinate skills. People self-select into Guilds and it doesn't appear that there is a restriction on the number of Guilds that one can belong to.

Because self-selection and self-organization are important to Communities of Practice (traditionally, as well as in the SAFe and LeSS definitions), I'd say that a Guild is the Spotify equivalent of a Community of Practice. Chapters do play some of the same functions with respect to information sharing, skill development, and improvement, but Guild is more closely aligned with the definitions.

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  • Thanks Thomas! I was expecting to have some written material I could explore a bit further with the team, but it seems it's virtually impossible to find any docs from Spotify itself talking about it in depth (as we have in other frameworks). OTOH, the video links are really handy!
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Aug 26 at 22:27
  • @TiagoCardoso I think the lack of written material is because the Spotify model wasn't widely used at Spotify. Some accounts even say that teams that adopted it have moved away and it's a failed model (at least at Spotify). There's some good stuff in the model that could be useful to learn from, but it never gained a widespread adoption and formalization.
    – Thomas Owens
    Aug 26 at 22:55
  • That's a really interesting aspect I was (and I believe a lot are) not aware of - would you know any place where this experience has been shared?
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Aug 27 at 7:49
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    @TiagoCardoso Here are a few posts, but I think there are more posts by or interviews with Spotify employees and former Spotify employees that I haven't been able to find: 1, 2.
    – Thomas Owens
    Aug 27 at 9:13

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