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A Center of Excellence (CoE) is a group of people with specialized skills and expertise whose job is to provide leadership and purposely disseminate that knowledge within your organization. CoEs should not be confused with Communities of Practice (CoPs), discussed later, and are sometimes referred to as guilds. In the last few years we’ve seen Agile CoEs, Testing CoEs, created within organizations to help their continuous improvement efforts.
A Center of Excellence (CoE) is typically formed to address a skills/knowledge deficit within an organization. The members of a CoE are coaches, so an Agile CoE is a collection of agile coaches, a testing CoE a collection of testing coaches, and so on. CoE coaches will be involved with many of the activities of Continuous Improvement
Coaches will work with one another, and with the people that they are coaching, to identify potential techniques (practices, strategies, principles) that they can help people to adopt to improve the way that they work
Coaches will help practitioners to share techniques that they find effective with one another. Helping to build a learning organization is the primary way for CoE coaches to scale their efforts and better yet work their way out of job.
CoE coaches will work with practitioners to capture viable techniques so as to build organizational memory around their processes and strategies.
The primary mission for CoE coaches is to support individual and team learning. As you can see in the goal diagram below, there is a wide range of strategies available to you.
Very often a CoE will initiate, or at least support the initiation of, one or more communities of practice (CoP) to aid their educational efforts. For example, an Agile CoE may help to organize an Agile CoE, an Agile Testing CoE, a Lean Architecture CoE, and many others.