Fostering knowledge transfer with tool parades

The new year has just started, and you might have plenty of plans on what you want to learn this year. But let us go back one step: What did you learn last year? Can you name three things, you have learned last year? Did you tell other people about your learnings? Did you get feedback and discovered even more by writing or talking about it?

If you struggled answering any of the questions before, you may want to host a tool parade with your colleagues. This is how we do it:

ePages Best of Bash

In early December, epagesdevs host an internal tool parade called “Best of Bash”, named after the Bash Unix shell. Contrary to what the name might suggest, it is not limited to command line magic, and all departments are free to participate and contribute! Anything that helps to improve is welcome: be it software, methodology, or great wisdom. You are supposed to ask yourself: which tool, methodology or productivity hack you learned last year got you an advantage over your colleagues? Sharing the knowledge, you level the playing field, and are encouraged to discover something new in the next year!


Over the course of the last three years of hosting ePages Best of Bash, we observed the following benefits:

  • People reflect more on what they have learned; about their achievements. What is worth sharing?
  • Your peers might pick up a thing or two, empowering their everyday processes.
  • You get further input on what you have learned. Often colleagues can provide additional pointers, greatly enhancing your original findings!

Hosting your own tool parade

Start with a internal blog post, outlining the format:

  • Lightning talks: 1 min setup or switch, 6 min talk, 3 min Q&A. This ensures a broad topic coverage.
  • It really helps to have an agenda list where interested speakers can pitch their topic name, a short motivation, and provide their name.
  • You should also include a “result/summary” column to be filled after the event. Highlight the requirement, that every speaker should document their key findings!

You want to have a meeting room with proper equipment (projector, video conferencing setup) blocked. Remember to reserve some time at the beginning and end of the event to explain the format, and to have a nice closing! From our experience, usually less than 4 minutes are needed to answer questions and switch to the next speaker. Thus, assuming you reserve 5 minutes at the beginning and end of the parade, you can probably fit more than eight talks into a 90-minute slot, and should reflect this in your agenda.

Last but not least: do not forget to have fun! 🙂

About the author

Oliver Zscheyge is a Software Engineer. He practices katas not just in coding dojos.