How Xebia consultants stay ahead of the game

One of the most important assets at Xebia is the knowledge of its consultants. Therefore we need to pay special attention to harvesting, exchange and expanding that knowledge. One of the ways we do that at Xebia is by holding bi-weekly sessions we like to call XKE's, short for Xebia Knowledge Exchange.

When we started doing these sessions three years ago, they were quite straight forward. The eight of us got together, had a pizza, and told each other about the projects we were doing. Since then Xebia has grown to 60 consultants, in the Netherlands alone, spread over two business units (Xebia IT Architects and Xebia Software Development). This put a strain on the old simple system. Even though the business units held separate sessions, the groups were simply getting too large!

Therefore we have gone about it in a different way since the summer of 2006. Every other XKE, once a month, we hold what you could call an internal conference. On a Tuesday from 16:00 till 21:00 three separate tracks with four sessions each are scheduled. The content of the sessions is mostly provided by the Xebia consultants themselves although external speakers are also invited sometimes. Not only presentations can be given here; there are also smaller rooms for interactive sessions such as brainstorms or hands-on sessions.

The schedule for this conference is created by the presenters themselves on our internal Wiki and is finalized a few days before it is held. For example, the schedule for the XKE of November 28, 2006 looked like this:

Wiki page with an XKE schedule

When the schedule is finalized the attendees can register themselves for the sessions by adding their name to the list. This allows the presenters to see how many people will attend their sessions and the organizers to move sessions to a bigger room if more people register.

Wiki page describing an XKE session

After an initial phase where the organizers had to ask around for presentations, the tracks are now filling themselves up faster than we can schedule them!

Xebia's consultants work at different locations and for different clients. The XKE's allow them to exchange experiences, share newly found knowledge, practice their presentation skills, and think of new things to do, while at the same time the XKE's also provide a social function.

Although XKE's are not the only way this is achieved (we also have an active internal mailing list, a wiki, and regular social events), we would not like to do without them!

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