From a knowledge management perspective, a brown bag lunch is “a structured social gathering during an organizational lunch time period which is used specifically for the purpose of transferring knowledge, building trust, social learning, problem solving, establishing networking or brain storming.” (Source: Bob Dalton, KMnet, http://www.slideshare.net/Loggy/brown-bag-lunch-strategy)
For more about the origins of the term “brown bag lunch”, as well as explanations of the many variations this method can take on please see the thoughtful, extensive KM4Dev Dgroups discussion that started on 11/03/2010. Most of the content of this entry is the result of thinking following this exchange.
A brown bag lunch (BBL) allows staff a real time exchange of knowledge and experience. At the core, however, it allows staff to socialize and get to know each other in a relaxed situation and promotes learning and trust building among staff.
The BBL can be used when an informal atmosphere is desired, and/or when there is a particuarly need to move away from formal, structured events.
A staff member or a guest who is knowledgeable about a specific subject, technology, programme, etc., or has a topical issue that would benefit from the input of others schedules a 45 minute session during the one hour lunch break period, and sends out a notice of the topic and time. Optionally s/he prepares a one page flier to share with colleagues during the BBL as background or for talking points. There is no formal presentation. The focus is on informal discussion, networking, learning and problem solving. Staff are invited to bring their own lunch and eat during the discussion, and can arrive and leave as their schedule requires.
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