tools and techniques
communities of practice (CoP) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .page 4
knowledge exchange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .page 6
peer assist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .page 8
after action review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .page 10
retrospective review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .page 12
knowledge café . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .page 14
knowledge marketplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .page 16
online services for local government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .page 18
IDeA Knowledge Exchange: relationship map for key contacts . . . . . .page 23
IDeA Knowledge Exchange: areas to cover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .page 24
knowledge management tools and techniques
tools and techniques
Knowledge Management (KM) We have an ongoing programme
is about enabling people and working with local government
organisations to improve the way colleagues to test out KM tools
they work through capturing, for their relevance to the local
sharing, and using know-how. government sector.
Selected examples of KM tools and There is a wide range of online
techniques to support you in making services to support local government
effective use of your resources are improvement which provide an
included in this handbook. Most of evidence base for practice. For a
these tools are easy to apply in your list of these email the KM Strategy
everyday work. team on the email address below.
For details on the training available
through IDeA please contact
knowledge management tools and techniques page 3
communities of practice (CoP)
context what is a CoP?
Online collaborative environments A Community of Practice is
provide new opportunities for staff a network of individuals with
to network, share and develop common problems or interests who
practice, and overcome the get together to explore ways of
challenges of geographical working, identify common solutions,
boundaries. They enable existing and share good practice and ideas.
communities to work more Typically they would share a specific
effectively. CoPs encourage an area of knowledge.
effective flow of knowledge across
The benefits of a CoP lie in
local government and can enable
providing an environment (virtual
and/or face-to-face) that connects
people – individuals, their
organisations and the community
itself – and encourages the
development and sharing of
new ideas and strategies. This
environment supports faster problem
solving, cuts down on duplication of
effort, and provides potentially
endless access to expertise.
Informal communities exist in
some form in every organisation,
whether or not they have been
named as such. The challenge is
to support them in such a way that
they make a positive contribution to
creating and sharing organisational
knowledge. CoPs are organic and
self-organising, and should ideally
emerge naturally. Communities
usually evolve from the recognition
of a specific need or problem.
page 4 knowledge management tools and techniques
how to run a CoP Communities can have a limited
A wide range of approaches can be shelf-life and this is not always a bad
used when creating and developing thing. Sometimes a natural ending is
Communities of Practice. Before reached - for instance when a group
setting up a community, here are a of people or a practice reach a
few key points to consider: conclusion. As long as the learning
is captured and redistributed to the
• scope user, the success of the collaboration
What do you want to achieve? can inform others in the future.
Who is your audience?
What are the boundaries? If you would like to see the
CoP platform and find out more
information about joining or creating
Who can make a major
a Community of Practice, please log
contribution? Do they share
on to firstname.lastname@example.org.
common needs and interests?
• roles and responsibilities
Who are the experts, leaders,
• interest and involvement
How will you attract interest?
How will you engage participants?
How will you develop your
• creating and sharing
How will you interact, learn
• moving forward
How will you add value?
How will you evolve?
knowledge management tools and techniques page 5
context what is a knowledge
When staff leave an organisation exchange?
they take with them the vital A Knowledge Exchange takes place
knowledge, experience and contacts between a knowledge holder and a
they have built. These losses in facilitator. The knowledge holder is
efficiency can be minimised by the the person who is departing – this
systematic capture of people's could be a permanent move, a
knowledge and experience before secondment, or maternity leave,
they move on through a structured for example – while the facilitator
Knowledge Exchange process. will typically be a line manager or
trusted team member. As the
interpersonal skills needed to capture
information are key, it is good to
have a facilitator who has a good
relationship with the knowledge
holder and who can ensure the
questioning is of sufficient depth
Ideally, the Knowledge Exchange
will involve a direct transfer of
knowledge to the knowledge
recipient. This is the person who
is replacing the knowledge holder,
or carrying out the tasks they leave
behind, and will benefit from any
useful tips and key knowledge.
The knowledge recipient will also
benefit from asking their own
page 6 knowledge management tools and techniques
how to run a knowledge Once the facilitator feels the
exchange knowledge identified as unique
and at risk of being lost has been
The methodology that the Agency
captured, the next step is to work
uses is based on work developed in
out the best way to package this
the public and private sectors by
knowledge for access within the
knowledge management experts.
organisation. This may include the
The knowledge holder receives creation of instructional guidelines,
the Knowledge Exchange pack mapping business processes, or a list
two days in advance. This consists of useful contacts' e-mail addresses.
of a context sheet, explaining the You may prefer to have a tape
purpose of the exercise, and the recording or a filmed record of the
questions to be asked (see appendix knowledge holder recounting how
two to this document). The facilitator they navigated a common problem,
follows these questions as a or simply spelling out a process. You
guideline, but they are best used as may then choose to upload this on
a means to drill down further on the to your team intranet, or save as a
four areas of work that the questions standalone file for future reference.
are grouped around: General, Key This process can also be included in
operational information, People and the performance appraisal process to
people skills and Lessons learnt and eliminate risk of loss of knowledge
'pattern recognition'. Mapping the to the organisation.
relationship between the knowledge
holder and key contacts supports the
capture of information (see appendix
one to this document).
knowledge management tools and techniques page 7
context what is a peer assist?
Through experience we know that A Peer Assist can be organised
talking to our peers about the best in a workshop or meeting form
way to approach new projects, is to gain knowledge and insight
effective. This saves valuable time from people in other teams before
and money for the local government embarking on a project or activity.
sector and avoids repetition of Essentially it seeks to encourage a
mistakes. Learning from our flow of knowledge and experience,
colleagues' past experience also and consists of a receiver(s) – those
allows us to re-use existing seeking assistance – and a group
knowledge, promote the sharing of of peers – those sharing their
learning between teams and can knowledge and expertise. The
help develop strong networks time-frame of this activity depends
among people. on the subject matter and number
of attendees in proportion to the
project, so can be anything from
two hours to a full day.
page 8 knowledge management tools and techniques
how to run a peer assist 3. Share information – divide the
There is no right or wrong way meeting time into four parts:
to hold a peer assist. However, a • clarify purpose – during the first
recommended and simple method part, the receiver(s) presents the
that works well involves a number context, history and future plans
of steps: regarding the problem. They
1. Appoint a facilitator – someone should be clear about what they
from outside the team who hope to achieve (eg we are setting
ensures that the meeting up a project on xx and want to
participants reach their desired check what has been done
outcome. already in this area).
• encourage the peers to ask
2. Select the participants – select
questions and give feedback –
participants who have diverse
in the second part the peers
knowledge, skills, and experience.
discuss the receiver's situation
There is no hard and fast rule
and share ideas and experiences.
about minimum or maximum
The receiver should simply listen.
numbers but the right participants
• analyse what you have heard –
are particularly important.
See After Action Review (AAR)
knowledge management tools and techniques page 9
after action review (AAR)
context how to run an after action
In the local government sector much review
of our work results in the creation of An AAR involves key team members
new knowledge and experiences for and is conducted as soon as possible
the wider benefit of the sector as a after the specified stage/event. It is
whole. important to create an atmosphere
An After Action Review is a of trust and openness, and to
Knowledge Management tool that emphasise that this is a learning
can assist in capturing lessons learnt. event, not a performance evaluation.
An independent facilitator can
what is an after action review? be appointed to help to draw out
An After Action Review (AAR) is a answers, insights and issues, and
discussion at a key stage within a to ensure that everyone contributes.
project or activity that enables the This could be facilitated within your
individuals involved to review what team.
has happened, summarise new
knowledge, and decide what action
should be taken next. This discussion
covers what actually happened and
why, what went well, what needs
improvement, and what lessons can
be learned from the experience.
page 10 knowledge management tools and techniques
questions asked questions used to probe
What was supposed to happen? What did we set out to do? What
were our objectives and deliverables?
What actually happened?
What did we actually achieve? What
went well? What could have gone
Why were there differences? Why did it happen like that? What
did we do?
What did we learn? What would we do differently next
time? How does this affect the next
What are the lessons for next time? What needs to be disseminated to
whom and how
You can refer to any project planning By recording and storing the
documents to help your discussions outcomes of the AAR on your
while you capture your learning. It is intranet or website, those involved
important to focus on improvement can refer back to what they have
and to ensure that any mistakes learned, and they can also be shared
made or poor practice identified with those who can benefit from
can be turned into a learning your learning, particularly those
opportunity. who are working on a similar
project or activity.
knowledge management tools and techniques page 11
context what is a retrospective review?
Systematic reflection and learning A Retrospective Review is an in-
allows for greater understanding of depth discussion that takes place
working practices and can improve after the completion of a project,
business performance. By effectively event, or activity. The process
evaluating the processes and lessons enables the individuals involved
learnt, an organisation can capture to reflect systematically upon the
learning across the sector, to help overall activity in some detail. This
inform others in an objective way review ensures that you capture
and improve the way they work. learning from what has happened,
understand why it happened, look
at what went well, what needs
improvement, and what lessons
inform future work.
page 12 knowledge management tools and techniques
how to run a retrospective 2. during a retrospective review
review • identify and review objectives
A retrospective review can be run in and deliverables of the activity
various formats. A recommended • identify and review the project
simple method that works well plan and planned process
involves the following steps: • discuss how success and lessons
1. preparation for a retrospective learnt can be applied in the future
review • discuss what could have gone
better, and why
• appoint a facilitator - someone
• relay short summaries of key
who can help create an open
learning points to clarify
environment and encourage
• formally close the retrospective
• invite all members of the relevant
team to participate
• collate and distribute relevant
documents relating to the activity 3. post-retrospective review
• record findings in an appropriate
format and circulate to all
• publish or store the key learning
points and recommendations for
• revisit the documented outcomes
regularly so to inform future work
Throughout the retrospective
review process, invite comments and
feedback. This will help you learn as
much as possible before the team
disbands, and can provide formal
closure on a project, event, or
knowledge management tools and techniques page 13
context what is a knowledge café?
Working in complex and changeable A Knowledge Café can be organised
environments is common within the in a meeting or workshop format,
local government sector. As a result, and allows participants the
keeping up with relevant issues, as opportunity to have an open,
well as keeping in tune with our creative conversation on a topic of
colleagues' and peers' perspectives, mutual interest. The emphasis of a
can be a challenge. In this ever- Knowledge Café is on flowing
changing sector, how can we better dialogue, and the process should
understand the knowledge that we bring people together to share ideas
do have? and learn from each other, in order
to make more informed decisions,
validate ways of working, or simply
create new ideas. It encourages
people to explore issues which
require debating to help build
page 14 knowledge management tools and techniques
how to run a knowledge café 2. during a knowledge café
There are several ways to run a • the facilitator should introduce
Knowledge Café, depending on the the Knowledge Café concept,
number of people involved, the any codes of conduct, and finally
questions for discussion, and time pose the question
available. A recommended and • the participants should arrange
simple method that works well themselves into groups and
involves the following steps: discuss the question
1. preparation for a knowledge café • the various groups should
eventually reconvene to exchange
• appoint a facilitator - someone
ideas and findings
who can encourage participation
• identify a question relevant to 3. post-knowledge café
those who are participating The real outcomes of a Knowledge
• invite the required participants Café are what people take away
• arrange the room layout as with them in their heads, and the
appropriate such as…create a new connections they have made
comfortable environment – you with people. If you do record the
may choose to adopt a 'café' Knowledge Café - making sure to
layout, with a number of small avoid disrupting or influencing the
tables supplied with tea and conversation - you may wish to
coffee distribute outcomes to participants
after the session.
And remember, a Knowledge Café
is not a talking shop! Turn taking is
important. If everyone is encouraged
to have their say, a natural and
stimulating group of discussions
should evolve and grow, and
good ideas won't be far behind.
knowledge management tools and techniques page 15
context what is a knowledge
Finding people with knowledge, marketplace?
skills and experiences who can help A Knowledge Marketplace can
you with specific aspects of your be seen as a dating service for
work is difficult, whether they are in knowledge. This tool is used to
the organisation or across the sector. identify and connect people's needs
People with specific knowledge will and wants on a particular subject.
always be beneficial to an
organisation, and organisations will Success depends on the willingness
always have people with different of participants to both contribute
knowledge needs. If an organisation and benefit in equal measure from
could match that knowledge to exchanging knowledge. It is highly
those needs, the benefits would be dependent on a degree of trust
even greater. between individuals.
It can be used in many situations,
but may be particularly useful when
delegating roles and responsibilities
within a new project team.
page 16 knowledge management tools and techniques
how to run a knowledge You will also need to collect some
marketplace basic information to start the
connection and collection process.
Within the participating team or
group, each person should take
the following steps: • name
1. identify your knowledge • job title
requirements – these could be • organisation
areas where you feel there are • email address
gaps in your knowledge • topic
2. identify your knowledge offers – These responses can be captured in
these would be areas where you many ways: in a form, in an excel
have knowledge and experience spreadsheet, by email, or on a flip
that can be shared with others chart on the day of the session. This
information is then used to connect
people to people, and the sharing
process can begin.
knowledge management tools and techniques page 17
online services for local government
A guide to online information, Local Government Association
learning and support for local www.lga.gov.uk
government: giving you the power
Promoting the interests of some
to improve your council
500 English and Welsh local
authorities, the Local Government
IDeA Knowledge Association (LGA) supports its
www.idea.gov.uk members through its role as a
As the Improvement and national voice for the sector. Sign
Development Agency's (IDeA) up for the LGA's e-bulletins service:
online hub for local government www.lga.gov.uk/emailLogon.asp.
improvement and good practice,
IDeA Knowledge provides news, Local Government Employers
guidance and toolkits for more than www.lge.gov.uk
50 areas of local government. Sign
Representing local government
up for a weekly news e-bulletin and
employer interests on pay, pensions
a monthly discussion forums e-
and employment issues to central
government, Local Government
Employers (LGE) seeks to modernise
Improvement Network the pay and conditions agreements
www.improvementnetwork.gov.uk in England and Wales. Access the
Access management tools for local LGE monthly newsletter and sign
government practitioners and start up for e-alerts.
planning your improvement journey
through following a structured
approach developed by experts from
a collaborative partnership between
Audit Commission, IDeA, Leadership
page 18 knowledge management tools and techniques
Local Authorities Coordinators esd-toolkit www.esd.org.uk
of Regulatory Services Enabling all local authorities to
www.lacors.gov.uk work as a community, sharing
and recording their performance
Coordinating regulatory services
improvement measures for
delivered by local government, Local
public facing services against a
Authorities Coordinators of
comprehensive list of services,
Regulatory Services (LACORS) helps
processes and interactions. The
enforce trading standards activities
esd-toolkit helps councils monitor,
and promotes quality regulation.
manage and report on their progress
Councillors can sign up for the
towards the improvement challenges
LACORS e-alert for those with
of the transformational government
and efficiency agenda.
LGA: European and
Planning Advisory Service
Helping the English local authority
The LGA's new European and
planning sector to achieve better
International Unit works to promote
planning services and outcomes,
UK local government interests in
the Planning Advisory Service (PAS)
European legislation, funding, and
works with elected members, chief
policy, as well as international
executives and senior managers. Sign
development. It connects UK
up for the PAS monthly newsletter
councillors with international
and access news, events, case
networks and supports democratic
studies, toolkits, and discussion
forums. (PAS is an IDeA Special
knowledge management tools and techniques page 19
Public Private Partnerships Centre for Public Scrutiny
Programme (4ps) (CfPS) www.cfps.org.uk
www.4ps.gov.uk The Centre for Public Scrutiny
4ps is local government's project promotes the value of scrutiny in
delivery specialist. 4ps works in modern and effective government –
partnership with all local authorities not only to hold executives to
to secure funding and accelerate the account but also to create a
development, procurement and constructive dialogue between the
implementation of PFI schemes, public and its elected representatives
public private partnerships, complex – to improve the quality of public
projects and programmes. 4ps' services. Get access to over1,000
multidisciplinary team provides reports, news and discussion forums.
hands-on project support, gateway (CfPS is hosted by IDeA.)
reviews, skills development and
best-practice know-how. Sign up Directgov www.directgov.uk
for the 4ps newsletter, and access Providing citizens with access
information on procurement to online public services and all
guidance, case studies and events. public service information from UK
Government departments, Directgov
SkillsPlus covers topics ranging from travel
www.skillsplus.gov.uk safety and parental leave to special
Improving skills training and educational needs and local NHS
development in local government, services.
SkillsPlus is a strategic skills
partnership between local
government employers in the UK
and Sector Skills Councils. It supports
local government and its need to
develop a highly skilled and flexible
workforce to meet the requirements
of effective service delivery.
page 20 knowledge management tools and techniques
Info4local Social Care Institute of
www.info4local.gov.uk Excellence www.scie.org.uk
Providing easy access to all local SCIE's aim is to improve the
government-related information experience of people who use
from central government, Info4local social care by developing and
covers the latest publications, related promoting knowledge about
links and news releases by subject good practice in the sector. Using
from 65 government departments, knowledge gathered from diverse
agencies and public bodies. Sign up sources and a broad range of people
to receive personalised email alerts: and organisations, it develops
www.info4local.gov.uk/emailalert.asp resources to support service users
and those working in social care.
Education evidence portal
This portal is supported by all
the national organisations with
an educational brief. It provides the
opportunity to search across key sites
holding high quality research and
evidence. It is an example of specialist
portals that are being developed for
key service areas. Other examples are
the Teacher Training Resource Bank
(www.ttrb.ac.uk), which holds
research and evidence-based materials
underpinning educational practice and
which contains a wide range of
supporting material for the education
knowledge management tools and techniques page 21
Commission for Social Care education and care through effective
Inspection (CSCI) inspection and regulation. A range
of inspection reports and services,
including e-newsletters, can be
The CSCI is the independent accessed through its web pages.
inspectorate for social care in
England. It works across the public,
private, and voluntary sectors. It Audit Commission
collates the information it holds www.audit-commission.gov.uk
around the regulation, review and An independent, non-governmental
inspection of all social care services public body, the Audit commission
in adult and children's services to is responsible for ensuring that
provide evidence of the quantity public money is spent efficiently,
and quality of social care services. economically, and effectively. It carries
out research nationally on delivery
The Office for Standards in performance within the public sector,
and is responsible for a range of
Education, Children's Services
inspection processes. A range of
and Skills (OfSECSS) inspection reports and services can
www.ofsted.gov.uk be accessed through its web pages.
From April, the new, single
Note: IDeA is working to make
inspectorate comes into being:the
online services for local government
Office for Standards in Education,
searchable through one portal for
Children's Services and Skills
(OfSECSS), it will take on the
responsibilities from four existing
directorates - the Adult Learning
Inspectorate (ALI); the work relating
to children of the Commission for
Social Care Inspection (CSCI); the
work relating to the children and
family courts of HM Inspectorate of
Court Administration (HMICA); and
the work of the current Ofsted, who
contribute to the provision of better
page 22 knowledge management tools and techniques
relationship map for key contacts
To create a relationship map, please The closer to the centre of the page,
use an A4 plain piece of paper. the closer the relationship is.
In the centre of the paper draw a By drawing lines with different
small circle or oval and write your thickness you can demonstrate the
name in the centre. amount of dialogue between the
relationships. The thicker the line,
Start mapping from the centre to the
the more regular the dialogue.
people, teams and organisations that
you have relationships with in your
working life. Please use full names
and team titles.
Dept of Trevor
occasional but relevant contact
one-way information interchange
two-way information interchange
NB. For all the above:
Line thickness = volume of information (thicker = greater)
Line length = frequency of contact (shorter = more frequent)
knowledge management tools and techniques page 23
IDeA knowledge exchange: areas to cover
1. general information
1.1 What do you consider to be the most valuable and/or unique
knowledge that you hold in your current role?
Do you have any specialisms?
Do you hold any knowledge that you would consider hard to replace
Do you hold any knowledge that no one else in your organisation has?
1.2 What aspects have made the largest contribution to you learning
what you know? Training, work assignments, previous jobs,
educational background, mentors?
2. people and people skills
2.1 Who are the people you interact with most frequently? Is there
anybody for whom you are the main or only point of contact in
your team? – You may like to use the Relationship Map to illustrate
2.2 Who do you consider are your key contacts, both inside and
outside the organisation? Do others on your team know about these?
Do you have any useful 'short-cut' contacts who can help you get
Do you have a relationship with specific vendors?
Is there anyone you can go to for expert advice, decisions, or
Was anyone particularly helpful/difficult?
page 24 knowledge management tools and techniques
knowledge item (response)
skills / specialisms
knowledge item (response)
knowledge management tools and techniques page 25
3. key operational information
3.1 What are the key factors contributing to the successful carrying
out of your job?
3.2 Is there any key documentation that you find particularly useful
to your role? Is this readily available to others? Is there anything
you feel was missing and would have made your life easier if you
had access to?
Procedures, manuals, software, reference materials, websites,
e-newsletters, magazine subscriptions?
3.3 Are there any immediate issues specific to your role that in your
view need to be urgently resolved?
Decisions, threats, opportunities?
3.4 Are there any dormant issues specific to your role that in your
view need to be resolved in the longer term?
Decisions, threats, opportunities?
page 26 knowledge management tools and techniques
knowledge item (response)
knowledge management tools and techniques page 27
4. lessons learnt and parttern recognition
4.1 In your position, what is generally likely to go wrong, and how do
you usually respond to or resolve problems?
Do you have any specific skills you use for troubleshooting or diagnosis
shortcuts - rapid ways of finding the cause for a fault?
4.2 How have you identified and managed potential risks or
problems in the past?
Do you have special knowledge for spotting deteriorating performance
or imminent problems and failure?
4.3 What mistakes do you think have been made in the past that you
think could be avoided in the future?
4.4 Are there any unexploited ideas or potential
improvements/innovations that you want to mention?
This could apply to the organisation itself, or the whole sector.
4.5 Are there other roles that you perform (officially or unofficially)
in the organisation?
Is there anything else generally of which you think we should be aware?
page 28 knowledge management tools and techniques
knowledge item (response)
knowledge management tools and techniques page 29
page 30 knowledge management tools and techniques
about the IDeA
Improvement and Development Agency for local government (IDeA)
The IDeA works for local government The IDeA also promotes the
improvement so councils can serve development of local government's
people and places better. management and workforce. We
advise councils on improving
We use experienced councillors and
customer service and value for
senior officers, known as peers, who
money. And we help councils work
support and challenge councils to
through local partnerships to tackle
difficult problems such as crime and
We enable councils to share good poor public health.
practice through the national
The IDeA is owned by the Local
Beacons scheme and regional local
Government Association and belongs
government networks. The best
to local government. Together we
ideas are put on the IDeA
lead local government improvement.
Our Leadership Academy
programmes help councillors become
better leaders so they can balance
the diverse demands of people living
in the same community.
knowledge management tools and techniques
Improvement and Development Agency
76-86 Turnmill Street
London EC1M 5LG
tel 020 7296 6600
IDeA IDT 1959