Stop here before you plan your next business event

The most common first or second aim of a business event is to transfer knowledge.

Knowledge transfer is more than just communication. Knowledge transfer makes knowledge available, supports understanding and the active acquisition of knowledge as well as the combination with existing knowledge.

Knowledge has to prove itself in action.” Peter Drucker

Knowledge transfer done well can lead to new or improved ways of action. When you achieved this your participants will be grateful. And you will be more flexible meeting the future of the business event market.

For this purpose I developed the Knowledge Transfer Event Canvas. You can download the English version here.

There is a German version too.

The article below takes you through the Canvas. Moreover I will write series of articles on aspects of this canvas in Medium.

One canvas — many advantages

To achieve successful knowledge transfer you have to look at all phases of the event and plan them strategically with your stakeholders in mind. This canvas supports you in doing so. It looks at all phases:

  1. planning the business event

2. the business event

  • before the event
  • during the event
  • after the event

3. learning from the business event.

A canvas lets you think visually. It is a visual checklist. This means you can build upon the expertise of others in the field who developed the canvas.

Moreover in a canvas you see the details and get an overview at the same time. And you find out where you still need to search for answers or ideas. If you fill it out as a team you will develop a shared understanding while you go. You can even communicate your strategy better when you show and explain it with the canvas. And it helps your to remember why you decided to do what you did.

If the business event is worth it, you could invest a bit more time and study your competition. Just fill out a Knowledge Transfer Event Canvas with as much as you know about their event.

Yes, there already exists an Event Canvas and a Knowledge Sharing Canvas. Yet none for knowledge sharing at business events. As this purpose needs special attention I developed the Knowledge Transfer Event Canvas. It is based on my long experience with organising business events, planning and facilitating knowledge transfer and my own interest as participant in learning something new at an event.

Knowledge — one word of caution

Working with knowledge is a challenge. Because of its aspects. Many theories and models try to explain them. I spare you all but one. I think this model is helpful for event planners:

tacit and explicit knowledge and the spiral of its creation.
Knowledge spiral developed by Nonaka and Takeuchi. Diagram by Ibmgroup, CC BY-SA 3.0

Tacit knowledge is „very difficult to articulate, to put into words or an image, it is highly internalized.“ (Dalkir, 2011) „We know more than we can tell.“ (Michael Polyani)

Explicit knowledgehas been rendered visible; captured and codified.“ (Dalkir, 2011)

When planning knowledge transfer keep the treasure trove of tacit knowledge in mind. Try to tap into it with interactive formats bringing together speakers and participants. Examples will follow below and with next articles here.

Keep in mind too that you should give room a.k.a. methods for internalization too.

Planning the business event

Plan with the achieved knowledge transfer goals in mind. But what are these? Look at all stakeholders of the event. Ask them/yourself: What should be different for her/him after the event? What knowledge do the need to acquire to be able to achieve their related business goals.

And what is the context of their work? What are their business challenges? Look at your business event competition too. As you might not be able to meet all expectations what are the most important ones?

You don’t need to accomplish this all by yourself. Participants are eager to shape events. See latest research on this. Integrate potential “key participants” in your planning. Value and reward their knowledge e.g. with free participation.

Don’t forget to find success factors/ROI indicators for your goal.

The business event

Before the event

Start with knowledge transfer already here. Perhaps you connect people well in advance with a matchmaking app. Perhaps you offer in advance abstracts for speeches and interactive formats with the possibility to post questions, interact with the speakers.

Have an eye on your speakers/workshop organizers too. Do they have what it needs to really transfer knowledge? Or should they receive some guidance, help?

When you organize a returning event you find here a valuable idea how to help newcomers and show appreciation for your experienced participants at the same time.

During the event

A keynote may energize and lead into the topic. Or not. It could be worth a thought to start with trying to tap into implicit knowledge instead. For instance with Speed Networking on the topic of the business event. As a kind of knowledge transfer warm up. Or start with a field trip. Like the German Society for Human Resources Management did with visiting accelerators for start-ups as starting point for their congress “Challenge Transformation”.

In addition to using a matchmaking app mark participant badges with colour codes for their interest. So they can interact too when they come across each other. And set up topic tables coffee and lunch breaks with a simple topic card. If your ROI is a high level of satisfaction regarding networking this is your way to success.

Alternate formats/presentations with interactive formats for digging deeper. And support reflection of newly acquired knowledge of the participants. Make knowledge visible. See examples here.

More tips on that will follow in separate articles here.

After the event

Aim for sustainability, help the participants. E.g. with attendee lists, all documents presented and created (!), memories via photo galleries or a twitter storify.

Learning from the business event

After the game is before the game:

  • Look at your success criteria and your ROI.
  • Harvest what you learned with an After Action Review.
  • Don’t stop here. Transfer what you learned into your work and the planning of the next business event.

Now it’s your turn

Print the Knowledge Transfer Event Canvas. Test it.

Give feedback, here or in Twitter or LinkedIn with #knowledge_eventcanvas. I am happy to update the Canvas with your suggestions.

Want to know more?

Stay tuned for my articles on examples for apps and methods. Soon to be published here. Follow me and you wont miss them.

A big thank you to Strategyzer, Dave Gray and XPlane my visual thinking heros. And to IMEX who made it possible to test my ideas with the visitors in Frankfurt in 2017.

Reference: (Dalkir, 2011) Dalkir, Kimiz (2011) Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice. The MIT Press 2011