Knowledge Management Toolbox

A set of tools for connecting, collecting and creating knowledge

This toolbox presents a range of simple tools and techniques which help facilitate the processes by which knowledge is created, shared and used in organisations. These build on what many are already doing, but can help teams develop a more systematic approach.

Take what you need from the toolbox, depending on the goal you’re trying to achieve!

For more information on using any of the tools or if you would like help in facilitating on of these techniques for your team, please email [email protected]


Learning before, during and after projects

The “learning before, during and after” approach frames a way of working that encourages us to learn before, during and after everything we do so that good practice can be replicated and pitfalls are avoided. It allows structured, facilitated time for reflection, knowledge gathering and capturing and knowledge seeking and sharing.

Learning before

Peer assist

A facilitated meeting with peers from previous similar projects to share experience, knowledge and insights. Gives a clearer understanding of potential challenges and options for responding to them.

Useful resources:

Peer assist (Health Education England) An overview of the technique

Peer Assist – animation (Uni of Ottowa, Canada) Short (6 min) animation explaining a peer assist process

Peer assist – video (Knoco Ltd) Short (5 min) video in which Nick Milton of Knoco Ltd talks about the value of using peers assists


Before action review

Supports a team to define what knowledge it has, what knowledge it needs, and therefore determine its knowledge gaps. Informs a plan of action to access the knowledge content and know-how from the available knowledge and evidence bases so the team plugs its knowledge gaps, and gets the project off to the best possible start.

Before action review – postcard (Health Education England) Double-sided illustrated postcard describing the technique


The ‘pre-mortem’ is a strategic exercise that aims to consider why a project might fail, thinking prospectively rather than retrospectively. The main principle of the pre-mortem is to imagine that a project has failed (when it is still ‘alive’ or ‘yet to be born’) and then to consider what factors have resulted in the failure of the project or initiative.

Pre-mortem (Jisc) Short guide to conducting a project pre-mortem

Learning during

After action review

A short structured discussion for all those involved in a discrete activity (e.g. an event, a key task), including where the outcome differed significantly from expectations; the AAR captures the team’s learning in a fast and agile way, looking at what worked well, what didn’t work, and what could be done differently next time. Leads to a set of recommended actions and know-how that support the team to replicate the success, or better deal with the same challenge, in the future.

After action review – postcard (Health Education England) Double-sided illustrated postcard describing the technique

KM Impact story (Public Health England) Case study illustrating how an after action review led by KLS helped draw out lessons learned from a project to develop and disseminate an eLearning module on psychological first aid during COVID-19


Communities of practice or interest

Link people together to share ideas, develop expertise and solve problems around a specific topic.

Useful resources:

Introduction to communities of practice: a brief overview of the concept and its uses (Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, 2015)

Brief introduction to communities of practice and their value as an approach to knowing and learning. Includes a useful section on Myths about communities of practice.

Communities, networks and social learning: frequently asked questions (Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, 2011)

Gives definitions of and describes the differences between social learning; communities of practice; networks; and teams. Provides guidance on cultivating communities of practice, including what are the first three things to consider doing to get a CoP started; how long it should take to get going? how long a community can be expected to last; what level of participation you can expect; key success factors, and considerations around measuring their value.

Communities of practice within and across organizations: a guidebook (Etienne Wenger-Trayner, Beverly Wenger-Trayner, Phil Reid, and Claude Bruderlein, 2023)

A more detailed guide to cultivating communities of practice in and across organisations.

Communities of practice (Health Education England) An overview of the concept and related resources


Knowledge café

Encourage productive conversations to help people learn from each other. Often nothing is captured. The real outcomes are what people take away in their heads and the relationships that are developed.

Useful resources:

The Knowledge Café concept (David Gurteen) A description of the process and its purpose

Randomised coffee trials / Coffee connect

People are paired up at random and given the opportunity to have a coffee and a chat together either face-to-face or virtually. They are a way of building relationships, enabling you to meet new people with different knowledge, experiences and connections.

Randomised coffee trials (Conversational Leadership) An overview of the process and its benefits

Civil Service Coffee Connect – the power of networking (Civil Service) About the Civil Service Coffee Connect initiative, its benefits and how to sign up.

Action Learning Sets

A structured method enabling small groups to address complicated issues by meeting regularly and working collectively. This tool is geared to learning and personal development.

Action learning sets (Health Education England) Double-sided illustrated postcard describing the technique

Action learning sets (Health Education England) An overview of the technique and link to an action learning skills guide


Knowledge assets

Knowledge and experience, captured and packaged for use by others to learn from in future. These might be key lessons, guidance, practice examples, stories. 

Knowledge assets (Health Education England) An overview of the technique and links to related resources  

Knowledge Assets (Knoco Ltd) A description of the approach to capturing organisational knowledge and the context needed to make sense of it



Enables an experienced colleague to help someone develop or experience new skills by shadowing or sharing advice, knowledge and experience. 

UKHSA Coaching and Mentoring programme (UKHSA Pulse)

Working out loud

Encourages employees to narrate their work and broadcast what they’re doing so others can interact, respond, learn, and apply that knowledge to their own work. Working Out Loud (WOL) combines observable work (creating spaces where others can engage with your content) with narrating your work (posting in social software).

Working out loud revisited (Stan Garfield) An introduction to the approach and its importance as part of digital transformation

Learning after


A structured, facilitated meeting or workshop at the end of a project to capture the knowledge before the project team disbands.

Retrospect (Health Education England) Double-sided illustrated postcard describing the technique

Securing knowledge from movers and leavers

A structured, proactive way of securing documents and capturing key insights and know-how from someone who is leaving a role. This may involve a range of techniques from handover checklists, work shadowing, knowledge transfer discussions, or ‘audience with …’ session. 

Contact [email protected] for a copy of the Securing knowledge from movers and leavers guide. 


More information about these tools is available in the NHS KM Framework postcards and e-learning modules (NHS Knowledge for Healthcare)


 Last Updated on 6th December 2023 by Helen Cartwright


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