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A knowledge exchange is a meeting where members of a Community of Practice from several teams come together to share knowledge on a key operational topic, and to develop Better Practice. These can be very high-powered creative meetings, often pivotal in the development of an organisation's knowledge base.
We worked with a company who was bidding, in many countries, for PFI (Publicly Financed Initiative) contracts. They wanted to develop, exchange and document their current Best Practice on how to win such contracts through competitive bidding.
We quickly determined the main issues and activities involved with winning PFI contracts, and divided into small dialogue groups to discuss, compare and agree current best practice for each issue. After each discussion, we reconvened in the main room, for feedback (and further discussion) from each break-out group.
The meeting was recorded, and the stories, ideas and current best practices were compiled into the Knowledge Asset, for use as a blue-print by future bid teams.
The structure of the exchange might contain the following elements
Everyone invited to the event will be a potential knowledge customer, and many of the people will also be knowledge suppliers. Choose people from a wide geographical spread - preferably one or more people from each business unit involved in the topic. Choose an offsite location somewhere quiet.
It is good to kick off the formal part of the knowledge exchange with an explanation of why it has been called, what its objectives and deliverables are, why it is important to the business, how it will be conducted, what the purpose of the recording is, and what end product will be produced. Go through the agenda, discuss roles, make sure everyone understands what they are there to do. It can be useful to start the knowledge exchange with an introduction from the business sponsor In person or by video) describing the importance of the exchange, and the business need.
Divide the attendees into small groups of 8 to 20. Each group needs a facilitator and a scribe. These individuals need to be identified and briefed. The facilitator needs to get dialogue going around the key issues, and steer it to delivering valuable output. The scribe needs to capture as much of the dialogue as possible, in the participants words wherever possible, and noting down who said what. (The session can also be recorded for later transcription).
The groups reconvene in the main room, and each group feeds back their findings for discussion in the wider group. The feedback sessions can usefully be recorded on audio or video. Also make sure you also record the details of the discussion that follows, as much valuable knowledge may be exchanged.
The main outcome from the knowledge exchange is a documented Best Practice, documented in sufficient detail and context that other business units can reproduce the Best Practices for business success. The format of the asset will determine what you need to record from the meeting.
Last updated May 2012. Contents Copyright Knoco Ltd.