A simple approach to successful knowledge-sharing.

How we increased our productivity, reduced the time we need to up-skill and improved our team culture with a simple, accessible approach to knowledge-sharing.

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‘Bring your lunch and get together to talk about…’ is what a calendar invite to a Smunch usually reads. First and foremost a convivial lunch, it’s part team gathering, part training, part skill-sharing, part brainstorming… the nature of the presentations varies a lot but they’re usually on one of four basic themes:

  • Event playback — when one of us has been to an event or conference, we play back a condensed version, focusing on the juicy highlights and best moments for those who didn’t attend.
  • Skill sharing — whether it’s about a new tool or a research methodology — or even how to learn to make Bee’s Wrap — skill-sharing sessions leverage one person’s expertise to help everyone learn something new.
  • Book summary — if you’re like us, you probably have a reading list as long as your arm. Book Smunches are basically someone reading the book for you then summarising the main talking points or things worth taking away.

There are many reasons for encouraging knowledge sharing, whether you are a team manager, a founder, an intern, a designer or anyone else in the team. Depending on your own role in the organisation you will almost certainly take away something different than your peers, but you will certainly get something out of each one.

1. They stimulate creativity

As external consultants, we’re always required to come up with new concepts and ideas for all sorts of organisations. Smunches expose our brains to regular stimuli and keep us up to date on the latest technologies, capabilities, behavioral trends or working methods.

2. They encourage more effective and consistent skill-building

By transforming a passive, individual behaviour into an active, collective one, it broadens what we each learn and reduces the time we need to assimilate knowledge. From my own experience, it also makes it more memorable.

3. They contribute to creating a happier team

The voluntary aspect of the Smunch is an important part of what makes it successful. It helps people to be empowered and develop self-esteem, confidence and a sense of belonging — which in turn makes happier individuals and by extension, a happier team.

…willingness creates a feeling of enjoyment in helping others. In the context of knowledge sharing, enjoyment in sharing what the individual has with the other gives some happiness and enjoyment to help the others to solve problems, make decisions and increase their work performance…

(From Theories of Knowledge Sharing Behavior in Business Strategy, by Norfadzilah Abdul Razak, Faizuniah Pangil, Md Lazim Md Zin, Noor Azlina Mohamed Yunus, Nini Hartini Asnawi)

4. They provide opportunities for everyone to voice their opinion

A great aspect of a Smunch is that you don’t need a Nobel prize to be able to present. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

We’ve mentioned it before but it works for us because it’s completely voluntary. Sure, setting personal development targets and objectives can get more people to participate, but it won’t be as beneficial for the organisation and its employees in my view.

Make it inclusive

Creating an open and inclusive culture is essential to the success of a Smunch. If you’re interested in introducing your organisation to Smunches, make sure that no matter how you run them, you create a safe place where it’s ok to experiment, participate, and comment and, crucially, where everyone is encouraged to contribute in a supportive way.

Do it on your terms

If you’re using your presentation as a practice exercise, do it in the best conditions possible and don’t rush to present it. Take the time to work on it until you’re personally happy with the way it looks and you sound.

Make it yours

It’s an opportunity for you to explore your voice and a format that works for you.

Keep it short

People’s attention span is limited so the shorter the better.

Knowledge sharing like this is such an easy thing to put in place and it opens up a whole world of opportunities without requiring much investment. Our Smunches are not only really useful, but they’re good fun, both to do and listen to: I can’t over-stress how important the conditions set for knowledge sharing are in making it a success.

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