Murmurations of Change

By: Jennifer Walinga  

A murmuration refers to the mesmerizing, aerial ballet of a twisting, turning flock of starlings and in many ways reflects the qualities of a community of practice. Communities of practice (CoPs), researched and developed by Etienne Wenger and colleagues to support organizational learning through the vehicle of a self-organizing and emergent forum for discussion, knowledge sharing, and change, can prove to be uniquely practical channels of internal communication across a variety of organizations. CoPs are based on three elements: a shared domain of knowledge or interest, a community of practitioners, and a focus on practice and application. In this session you will learn about the subtle yet powerful ways in which the convening of several communities of practice served to inspire real learning, cultural alignment and change in a small, entrepreneurial institution of higher learning. The CoPs included topics such as program and departmental administration, women in leadership, trends, writing, learning, organizational structure and design, team-based learning, and communication. The researchers find that CoPs act as internal channels of communication that are uniquely adaptive, multi-dimensional, accessible, and productive and therefore offer a useful tool for facilitating organizational or community change.

Learning Community, Learning Organization, Emergent Leadership, Community of Practice, Convening
2020 Special Focus - Beautifully Organized
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Jennifer Walinga

Professor, Communication and Culture, Royal Roads University, Canada
BC, Canada

After teaching for twenty years, I combined my passion for communication and athletics in pursuing an MA in Leadership where my research focused on the impact of experiential training programs on organizational performance. I went on to earn my PhD in Organizational Studies from the University of Victoria where I developed a problem solving intervention called Integrated Focus that I continue to apply with individuals and organizations from a variety of realms. In designing communication, change, and performance interventions, I blend theories from organizational, educational, and sport psychology. I draw heavily upon my experience as a member of Canada’s Commonwealth, World and Olympic gold medalist rowing teams (1983-1992) as a facilitator, educator, and consultant.