In the Middle Ages craftsmen often organized themselves in guilds. Guilds formed around disciplines like carpeting, carving, and masonry. Some were structured quite strict, others more relaxed. Some covered the whole country, others reached no further than the city walls.
- enable people to learn a craft in master apprentice working relationships;
- define proper principles, practices and patterns to bring out excellence in all who practice a craft.
Today, almost all aspects of our organizations and businesses involve craftsmanship. Today's manifestation of a guild is called a community of practice (CoP). A community of practice is a group of professionals that:
- are passionate about and share a area of work, a craft;
- seek to learn and exchange craft-related principles, practices and patterns;
- harmonize and standardize universal guidelines and ways of working;
- cut across organizational, company, and product boundaries; and
- strengthen the social network, is often tight-knit.
- seeks self-organization, self-coordination and self-healing using a light-weight guild charter (Dutch: ‘gildebrief’) to keep a healthy, clean, and autonomous social network that little or no formal direction;
- has a clear unity of purpose;
- has a group identity, often symbolized by a powerful emblem;
- undertake collective action;
- thrive under common sense, perish under politics;
- can evolve into a center of excellence;
- can evolve an excellence guide;
An organization's leadership can actively push for guilds. Multiple guilds from individual organizations or countries can self-organize into a holarchy of guilds. To improve smooth operation in multi-level guilds, they use consent-based decision making and double links between adjacent levels. This avoids most conflicts, inter- and intra-personal and -guild.
Tools for Guilds
Typical tools used by guilds: