Knowledge Cafe

An informal meeting to network and to bring to the surface tacit knowledge.

Name:  Laura Wilkes

Your Service

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Library and Information Centre

Who asked

Speech and Language Department based at West Suffolk Hospital and across the community.

What did they say?

The contract for community speech and language provision was awarded to West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust as part of a consortium contract in October 2015. In order to foster a closer working relationship between the acute and community teams, a training day was arranged for 23rd June.

As part of the Embedded Librarian pilot service with the acute Speech and Language Department, the Embedded Librarian and the acute Speech and Language (SALT) Manager decided to try a modified version of the Knowledge Café concept.

What did you do?

At the training day, we divided the group of 23 into three groups and gave them three questions to discuss in conversation. Facilitation was kept to a minimum, just a brief explanation of the concept was provided and instructions to change groups and move onto a new topic after 10 minutes.

The questions were as follows:

  • What would you be if you were not a Speech and Language Therapist? (Designed as a getting-to-know-you and to tease out hidden talents)
  • Talk about something in your service which excites you (Designed to extrapolate best practice)
  • How can we work together to improve patient care? (Designed to give rise to ideas for greater integration).

The conversation flowed freely and there was no need to facilitate or intervene.

How did it help?

The feedback from both managers was very positive and the therapists who attended also seemed to appreciate the opportunity to get to know their colleagues or reacquaint themselves with former colleagues.

Observing the conversations, I was struck by the level of commitment to patient care shown and the enthusiasm for their roles. Here are some of the comments:

‘Just wanted to say thank you for yesterday, it was the first time many of us had met members of the different teams and the knowledge café was a fantastic way of getting to know one another while also considering ways we can better work together – much less awkward an cheesy than traditional ice-breakers. Your facilitation and explanation of the process were excellent. I hope David Gurteen appreciated it and I hope we can follow it up with another….’

Speech and Language Therapist

Knowledge café was FANTASTIC! team all very positive so huge thank you :-)’

Professional Lead Speech and Language Therapy

This is a very easy and effective tool to surface tacit knowledge, share best practice and ideas and exchange knowledge. Minimum organisation is required and the facilitation is not onerous. All that is required is a suitable venue and some refreshments.

This tool can be adapted to a variety of situations and teams.


Knowledge Cafe Summer Conference Poster gives more details of the knowledge cafe, as well as photos from the event and feedback.


June 2016