Header-New York State Governor's Office of Employee Relations/Department of Civil Service Work Force and Succession Planning-Tools & Resources

KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT / TRANSFER STRATEGIES
Knowledge Fairs
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Definition

A knowledge fair is an event designed to showcase information about an organization or a topic. It can be organized in many ways using speakers, demonstrations, or more commonly, booths displaying information of interest to the attendees. One example is the Xerox Corporation's annual "Team Day" that showcases the work of various quality-improvement teams. Two New York State examples are described below.

Benefits

A large amount of information can be made available and attendees can focus specifically on what they are interested in learning. Attendees can interact directly with the presenters, getting immediate answers to their specific questions. They also can establish contacts for further exploration of topics if needed.

Attendees often network with one another and booth developers' often strengthen their teamwork. Knowledge fairs also provide opportunities to draw attention to best practices and recognize employee and team achievements.

Obstacles

Depending on the scope and size of the event, it can require a large amount of staff time for creating booths, putting information together to display, and for organization and logistics. The costs for space, materials, and resources can be high. The potential exists for participants to become overwhelmed with information.

When to Use

Consider a knowledge fair when there is a lot of information to share with a lot of people and participants need a broader perspective, as well as an opportunity to interact on a one-on-one basis on specific topics. A knowledge fair is an alternative to traditional presentations when more interactive experiences are desirable.

New York State Examples

"TaXpo"

In 1999, the Tax Department used a large basement room in one of their buildings on the State Office Building Campus to hold a Knowledge Fair with more than 75 booths showcasing the work of organizational units across the entire department. Unit or office employees created and staffed their own booths. All employees were invited to attend, including employees from district offices away from Albany, where the event was held. Staff visiting the fair had the opportunity to ask questions and develop their understanding of what the various organizational units did and how they fit into the larger picture of accomplishing the mission of the department. See Appendix B, page 55, for Commissioner Roth's memo to all Tax employees and Appendix C, page 56, for a list of the 75 booths and sample descriptions of four booths.

Organization Development Learning Network "Share Fair"

The Organization Development Learning Network (ODLN) is a community of practice supported by the Governor's Office of Employee Relations. It is "an organization development (OD) peer learning group that shares experience and generates knowledge to improve New York State agency performance."

The group was formed in 2000 and held its first meeting in October of that year. In order to familiarize those attending with what OD is and the kinds of things that OD can do for an organization, a "share fair" was held. Smaller in scope and simpler than TaXpo, this event used tables in a large meeting room to display various materials relating to OD initiatives. Staff from the various agencies answered questions and explained what they did and how it contributed to accomplishing their agency's mission and improving organizational performance. See Appendix D for the Share Fair descriptive brochure.

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