In my former role as a Business Process Analyst and Knowledge Management Driver at Ericsson Australia, I was invited to attend a Knowledge Café Masterclass by David Gurteen in the early part of 2009. I thoroughly enjoyed David's presentation and the ideas behind the knowledge café. During this time, I was responsible for implementing a change management programme within my department which comprised of approximately 60 IT and Telecommunications engineers and their managers. Essentially this change management programme meant that our engineers needed to have a greater understanding of the organsiation's global processes, operations and ways of working. Based on the work ahead of me I decided that it was worth it to try to and run a knowledge café.
My first step was to convince my managers to give me the opportunity to run a knowledge café. I explained to my managers how a knowledge cafe is run, the benefits and the cost effectiveness of using knowledge cafes to help our workforce. I was also upfront and explained to my managers that I would not know if the knowledge cafes would be successful until I tried a few and received feedback from the participants. My managers were very supportive and encouraged me to facilitate several knowledge cafes.
In the 1st week, I facilitated 6 knowledge cafes that included engineers and their managers. I invited engineers from different departments so that during the discussions, people could learn from people that they did not work with but still performed similar type of work. I always began each session with the same open ended question and then let the discussion flow. I took notes throughout the cafes and then after the 1st week consolidated all the information into a report so that everybody could get a better understanding of what was discussed in the various knowledge cafes. After the 1st week of knowledge cafes, the feedback was extremely positive from managers and the engineers.
Based on the positive feedback from my colleagues I continued to facilitated many Knowledge Cafes and I would send out a summary report of what was discussed at the end of each week. By the end of 2009 I had facilitated approximately 40 knowledge cafes and our department was acknowledged as the most knowledgeable and compliant group in the organisation after the change management audit was completed. This was a great result!
In early 2010, I continued to facilitate more Knowledge Cafes but also started to teach people on how to facilitate a knowledge café in our organisation. As a result, Knowledge Cafes are now a very effective and popular method that knowledge is shared within Ericsson Australia and I am very proud of the fact that I was the one who started the process in the organisation.
Ericsson Australia Pty Ltd