Talk:KS for newcomers

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See the original thread of this E-Discussion on D-Groups: part1, part 2

Anna Bertele, 2010/04/26


Here in EuropeAid we have started a new induction program for newcomers, including an online resource centre and discussion board. For their first face2face introduction day we were thinking of having a world café session. What are your experiences of knowledge sharing methods for newcomers in your organizations? Is the world café appropriate or maybe some Open Space or other could work better? Thanks a lot for your attention, you always have great ideas!

European Commission - EuropeAid Belgium

Brad Hinton, 2010/04/28


I think that inductions are good for newcomers, so long as the induction takes place at the same time the newcomers arrive (or as close to as possible). You want to establish good practices as soon as possible.

I don't have a recommendation for induction formats, although I think ones that have some level of personal involvement are better (more engaging and interesting) than the straight "lecture" approach.

Most importantly, and often neglected IMHO, is to give the newcomers opportunity to tell of some of their personal experiences from prior workplaces. If the induction is for people in a particular knowledge domain (say IT), then perhaps focus on what were some good and bad IT practices and experiences the newcomers had at previous employers. If the newcomers at induction are in many different roles and sections within the organisation, then perhaps seek out the newcomer with the past experience that best fits each particular section of the induction. So, for the session on knowledge management, ask people what previous KM experiences they have had - good and bad.

The idea here is that some of these past experiences may be relevant and innovative for the current organisation.

The learning process is always a two street and inductions are a good time to get two-way information exchange and build relationships at the same time.

Joitske Hulsebosch, 2010/04/28

Hi Anne,

Brad reminded me of something. A good idea is also to use the newcomers to get feedback about your own organisation. They are looking with a fresh eye at your organisation till roughly 100 days later... (a '100-days feedback' session could be great)

Riff Fullan, 2010/04/29

Dear Anna, all,

Joitske's contribution also reminded me of something ;-) First, I totally agree about the 'fresh eyes' observation. Very useful to have that kind of feedback. Second, it is worth building in a strong element of bilateral meetings. I think many induction processes focus very much on the content people need to know for their work, when in fact a great deal of their effectiveness will rely on their relationships with others. Thus, a series of meetings with key internal and external people, as informal as possible, can be very effective in providing newcomers with both a better appreciation of the 'landscape' in their respective areas of expertise and the spark for the building of personal networks which are also of crucial importance.



Allison Hewlitt, 2010/04/29

Hi Anna

I haven't tried this myself but when someone suggested the idea of including a scavenger hunt as part of an orientation program, I thought it could work nicely.

I would probably have people work in teams of 2 or 3. Each team is given a list of tasks which could include identifying and interviewing staff with whom knowledge sharing plays a central role, collecting items, identifying central spaces etc. They could also be provided with a camera for documentation purposes.

As much as possible, I would try to link the scavenger hunt to what new staff need to know rather than making it a search for a random list of items. So, you could even provide them with specific scenarios they might be faced with within their first few weeks on the job and have them find staff who could provide them with ideas or the information they need to know.

Not sure how well it could work in your context and definitely more work to plan than a world cafe but perhaps a nice complement to the conversations.

Ian Thorpe, 2010/04/29


I really like the idea of a scavenger hunt for newcomers. I also thought of another possible scenario.

Ask participants to find a number of key facts or pieces of information about the organization. It could be a policy document, a key statistic, the name of a person with a particular role or a particular experience, a historical fact etc. etc.

Don't tell them how they should find out the fact or where they can look - instead see if they can get the right answer, and then have them describe how they found it. I could imagine you could get some interesting lessons about how people find information and how hard it can be to find what you want. (and it would be intereting to see if people ask colleagues, search the intranet, or look externally to find what they need).

Amina Singh, 2010/04/30

Hi Anna,

Reading Allison's posting reminded me of an exercise that I enjoy when facilitating team building exercises as part of the orientation process... Divide into groups ( sometimes I mix old staff with new or can do between old team and new ) and do a poster competition....give them a box of stationary materials with some odd creative in what you put in the box...and each team has to create a presentation or poster that communicates the mission of the organisation..or you can do it on department mission. Sometimes, I just call it "presentation" so people can be creative and use other forms of communication to express their mission. What comes out provides a nice forum to talk about how members understand the organisation's work. This is a more lighter exercise of course...I personally enjoy open space - its a good way to explore who's passionate and knowledgeable about what topics/issues..

Jayalakshmi Chittoor, 2010/05/04

In a recent project that I work with, wherein external experts are doing location based (on site) project management and work with Government officials (all senior officers are on transferrable jobs), there is a need for constant "induction" of new staff almost each month.

We have tried to put together a process document for each key activities that the Government officers have to deal with and a list of reference documents that have been collated pertaining to the project. Knowledge organising is an important support work that can be undertaken by some lead KM officer within an organisation.

Eg, Convene Meetings of Steering Committee (a detailed process step-by-step guide is put together) which is a documentation of experiences that are shared by a group to the set of newcomers.

In government work, often we need to refer to Procedures Manuals which only very experienced officers know to use. It will be useful to point out who these knowledge/domain experts are within an office for the new comers to take guidance from.

Apart from this, an orientation with informal tea/coffee session works well.