Executive Panels: How to host one


Press junket for a knowledge area. The Executive Panel is a great opening strategy for any new knowledge management initiative. It involves a selection of executives who are experts in one area to form a panel and be asked questions from employees. It shows a commitment and enthusiasm for sharing knowledge with everyone. More importantly it humbles the executives, allows for sharing of stories and will put a friendly face on management.ExecutivePanel

How to host you own Executive Panel

Time: 30-60mins


1 Moderator

2-4 Executives

8 – 20 Audience

Equipment: Open room, chairs

Expenses: Free


  1. Select a discussion topic. It is generally advised to stick to a theme or central question. You could either use a prechosen topic or ask for suggestions of topics beforehand. Note: this should be done well in advance as it might affect your choice of executives.
  2. Select a moderator. The person will move the conversation forward and deal with questions and keep to the time frame.
  3. Select 2 – 4 executives or managers to be a part of the panel.
  4. Either select or allow participants to sign up for the audience. Try to keep the numbers limited to 8-20. Too few, other strategies will be more helpful and to many it might put the executives at a disadvantage.
  5. Find an open space you can use. You want something warm and inviting. A class room setting would be best. Avoid communal areas and larger auditoriums. The idea is to get all of the audience asking questions.
  6. Set the time and the place. Give everyone an itinerary of what will be discussed.
  7. Once everyone is seated, have the moderator begin with a small introduction of the topic.
  8. Have the executives introduce themselves.
  9. The moderator asks the first question. Either present it to the group or pick out an executive to ask.
  10. The moderator should allow the discussion to develop naturally, only stepping in to keep the questions going or to ask an executive who is quite for their answer.
  11. Allow participants to ask questions. It is up to the moderator to choice how many questions are asked.

Here is a small list of discussion topics you can use:

Leadership skills

Client handling

Hardest part of your day

Supplier relationships

Management trends

Going a step further.

  • Deescalate the whole process. Give everyone food and drinks. Ask the executives to take their jackets off. The whole point is an informal look into the executives’ attitudes and mindsets.
  • Be proactive with choosing topics. Hold a survey or voting for the topics. Try and find out what people really want to know.
  • Tailor questions to each executive. For example, ask how a recent problem at work was overcome or how the latest sales figures where reached.
  • Encourage the executives beforehand to give praise to areas and individuals of the company.
  • Don’t make it a speech about how to do things better. Prompt conflicting opinions in strategies.
  • You don’t want it too sound rehearsed.



read more

Storytelling: Memorable Lessons


Storytelling is one of the oldest methods of sharing knowledge between people. They are used to educate, illustrate effects, entertain and pass on valuable knowledge. Conventional communication can become stale and boring. A good story adds interest and spices up a dull lesson. Gabriel describes it as the art of weaving and constructing intimate knowledge (2000). This intimate knowledge captures routines and the experiences of past employees (Liebowitz 2009). Stories get repeated throughout a company and can be a driving force for change and a solid indicator of company culture. These stories frame important lessons, in a creative and memorable way.

Storytelling follows the classic rules for any good story.

  • Focus on the positive. How do you reach the happy ending?
  • Who is the hero of the story?
  • Use a twist or an unconventional plot. How will you get people’s attention?
  • Be clear and concise with the story.
  • Try to use more than one medium.
  • Focus on a clear message.
  • Use humour and comedy.
  • Feel free to exaggerate but don’t go overboard.
  • Can be warnings or opportunities.

It can be very difficult to create a set of guidelines for stories but remember to be away of how influential they can be!

Going the extra mile

If you want to get the most out of this strategy, frame your stories around past accomplishments of employees. Give credit to them and show the rewards they were given. Reinforce positive lessons and how you want future problems solved. Get creative, a great story is always easy to remember.

read more

Knowledge Champions: What are they?


Knowledge Champions

Knowledge champions are Knowledge Management (KM) leadership roles appointed to one person from each department. They report to the central knowledge manager. These people promote, support and communicate knowledge management initiatives within their departments. By combining these activities they help ensure your new KM strategy can have the best possible starting point.


Your typical activities will be a part of the following categories:
Advocacy: Spreading the message and importance of KM.
Support: Acting as representatives for the initiatives and as a source of contact for feedback.
Knowledge Brokering: Here they help link their departmental colleagues to resources normally outside their immediate context.

Advocates, supporters, campaigners, activists and movers for KM in their department. These people are the first points of contact for KM in the company and should be the loudest. Activities that they participate in include:
– Encourage knowledge sharing and learning behaviours in the company.
– Lead by example in the company.
– First point of contact. They are a reference point for anyone in the company.
– Gather and communicate feedback from colleagues to the central KM team. Determine the impact of KM strategies.
– Lead awareness sessions. This include briefings at department inductions and KM orientations.

They support and bolster new initiatives and help the main KM team with new strategies. Activities include:
– Represent their department in KM briefings and strategy meetings.
– Provide new insights and suggestions for the main KM team.
– Play a role in the department level projects to be support, coordinate and delegate KM resources.
– More feedback to the main KM team.

Knowledge Broker
They have the resources, the support and the right attitude to show people where they can find the knowledge they need. This is all about networking and resources.
– Network with other knowledge champions.
– Be aware of the news strategies and resources available to the company, inside and out.
– Give feedback and suggestions to new areas of knowledge that might have been missed by the main KM team.
– Share best practices with other champions.
– Identify major knowledge needs of the department.

Going a step further
Here are some more points to get the best out of your Knowledge Champions:
– Give them ownership of the departments KM.
– Create a competitive atmosphere but comparing their effectiveness between champions.
– You could also compare the satisfaction rates of KM and their champions.
– Align special personal and departmental rewards.
– Make the champion position enviable so that competition is fierce just to get elected to the position.

Summary of a knowledge champion:
This people are picked for their influences and motivation to see the knowledge management initiatives succeed. They can be used in a variety of ways but their core mission is to be a guiding and supportive influence on each department. These are lieutenants to see a KM strategy succeed. Use them however you want but they are one of your best resources!

read more

Knowledge Cafes: What are they and how to host one


Knowledge Cafes: What are they and how to host one

A knowledge Café is an intensive group activity that gathers interested parties together to discuss selected issues. This is a very creative process and is designed to produce new solutions and knowledge from the combination of experience and knowledge of those who attend.

Basically, the premise is to get 15 to 30 people to answer the key question of the café. This is done by getting the group members into smaller groups and discussing components of the questions then moving on to different tables for a set period of time. The Knowledge Café then moves onto a group conversation about the components and concludes with a discussion of the main topic. Below you will find an outline of how to get started.


So how do you do it? Follow these steps:

  1. Select a key issue you would like to have the café focus on. For example, let’s use the topic ‘Knowledge sharing’.
  2. Try and phrase this as a question you can ask the café. For example, knowledge sharing could be rephrased as ‘What are the barriers to knowledge sharing in an organisation and how do you overcome them?’.
  3. Invite 15-30 people to join the knowledge café
  4. Welcome and introductions
    1. Spend the first 5-10mins welcoming and explaining this process to the attendees.
  5. Split the group and start table conversations
    1. Break the group up into at least 3 even groups.
    2. Give each table a talk point or starting statement. This helps the conversation begin and gets the attendees involved. For example, if you are using the ‘knowledge sharing’ topic, a talk point would be ‘The accounting manager of BLANK thinks that the knowledge sharing only needs to happen online. Do you agree with the statement?’ Or ‘Why should I share my knowledge with others, it’s why I am valued.’ Or ‘I want to help but I don’t know how to share my knowledge’.
    3. Get the groups to select a table leader. This leader is required to read the starting statement and to write down the best ideas onto a mind map.
  6. Join the group together and start group discussion
    1. Get all of the groups to come back together
    2. Have each of the table leaders to present their mind maps
    3. Allow for a small discussion for each starting statement
    4. After the table leaders have presented, bring the conversation back to the key issue
  7. After the allotted time has ended, give final remarks and thank everyone for participating

Going the extra mile

Here are some extra tips to get the most out your cafe. Feel free to customize your cafes to fit your company culture.

  • Record the final discussion on camera or at least record the mind maps then email the attendees on what was the main points.
  • Allow anyone in the organisation to submit ideas for the next knowledge café.
  • Have anyone who submits the idea to host the next café.
  • Provide incentives for hosts (Make them realistic but don’t make them financial)
  • You could provide small required reading lists for the café. Nothing major but perhaps small articles or interesting TED talks.
  • Collect ideas from the whole company on what issues would like to be discussed and then have them vote on the most desirable. Try to avoid topics such as ‘how to fix process X’ and use more open ended topics.
  • Allow anyone from different areas of the business to participate. The only entry requirement is the desire to gain more knowledge.


A knowledge café is a creative process that allows managers to trouble shoot problems, create new knowledge areas or share experience between workers. It is one of the simplest but most effective knowledge management tools that you can use today.


The example topic is from David Gurteen, a prominent knowledge management expert.

read more