Knowledge exchange

Takes place when someone is moving on from their current position

It aims to recover unique and valuable information from them before they leave.

The knowledge exchange occurs between a knowledge holder and a facilitator. The knowledge holder is the person who is departing. The facilitator is typically a line manager or trusted team member – someone who is close to the leaver and can ensure the questioning is of sufficient depth and relevance. Ideally, the knowledge exchange will also involve the person replacing the knowledge holder or carrying out the tasks they leave behind. They will benefit from any useful tips and knowledge and from asking their own questions.

Contact [email protected] for the document in an accessible format.

What are the benefits?

When staff leave an organisation they take with them the vital knowledge, experience and contacts they have built during their time there.

The organisation suffers if this information is not passed on before they leave.

Estimates suggest it takes at least six months before a new recruit contributes effectively to the organisation. Including checks of handover notes through the appraisal process protects organisational memory.

If a local authority adopted this approach, time and money saved per year would equate to between 10 and 100 posts.

Many organisations will already have some informal process in place to capture the knowledge of leavers. However, the best efficiency gains come from a formalised, structured knowledge exchange process.

How do I go about it?

quick and dirty process

You and the team, in a room, for an hour.  Team draft ‘top 10 things we want to know about X’.  You simultaneously draft ‘Top 10 things you need to know about X’. 

Bring lists together, work through and answer questions there and then.  Ensures the crucial knowledge is exchanged in a short space of time, no lengthy documenting. 

Team are responsible for capturing their own notes.

Source: KRT Toolkit

Facilitated process 

This methodology is based on work developed in the public and private sectors by knowledge management experts. It has five steps:

  1. Two days prior to the knowledge exchange, the knowledge holder receives a copy of the knowledge exchange questions (see questions in the Elicitation interview, in the KRT Toolkit)
  2. The facilitator follows these questions as a guideline, but they are best used as a means to focus on the four key areas of work: general, key operational information, people and people skills, and lessons learned and ‘pattern recognition’
  3. Relationship mapping (see below) provides an overview of the relationships the knowledge holder has with key contacts in the organisation.
  4. The facilitator must then decide the best way to package this knowledge for the organisation. This may include: drawing up instructional guidelines, mapping business processes, producing a list of useful contact information and relationships, and recording as audio or film some of the knowledge holder’s information.
  5. The facilitator may then choose to upload this information onto the team intranet, team shared drive, or save as a standalone file for future reference.

This process should be included in the performance appraisal process to eliminate risk of loss of knowledge to the organisation when staff leave.

Relationship Mapping Guide

To create a relationship map, please use an A4 plain piece of paper.

In the centre of the paper draw a small circle or oval and write your name in the centre.

Start mapping from the centre to the people, teams and organisations that you have relationships with in your working life. Please use full names and team titles.

The closer to the centre of the page, the closer the relationship is.

By drawing lines with different thickness you can demonstrate the amount of dialogue between the relationships. The thicker the line, the more regular the dialogue.

Page last reviewed: 16 June 2021