The Knowledge Cafe:


Caffeinated Culture,

Learning Agility in a Project Economy



By Benjamin C. Anyacho

Austin, Texas, USA


By 2030, 76 million baby boomers will walk out of our organizations, taking decades of intellectual capital with them. Hyper-job mobility has a great loss of knowledge cost (Knowledge Risk) associated with it. Gallup estimates that millennial’s turnover alone costs the US economy $30.5 billion annually. Learning agility, versatility, feedback, making sense of our experience, and collaboration meet at the café and are woven into the fabric of high-performing organizations—these should not be cumbersome, but as simple as walking into a corner café. The Knowledge Café (Café) is an intelligent knowledge conversation. Conversations are like ping-pong games, but how do we get people to go bowling? The café is a learning agility mindset and a space for creating the right environment for successful knowledge management. Fact: you can’t force people to share their knowledge. So, you have to create the right knowledge environment—in a café—where knowledge workers are incentivized for a free exchange of knowledge and rejuvenated. Knowledge café construct can unleash a knowledge culture, learning agility in today’s project economy.


Knowledge café is a knowledge management technique like lessons learned or after-action review, expertise locator database, or community of practice. The café is used to engage a group to identify, learn, exchange, share, and unleash relational knowledge power. How powerful is the knowledge that is pigeonholed, unshared, unrejuvenated, and locked up in databases and the minds of project managers? There has never been a time when the need for increased knowledge flow, agility, simplicity, and relevance than now. Don’t you wish there’s a space to bring ideas, including our crazy ones, right up our alleys for other caffeinated visitors to test them out? Café is a knowledge exchange attitude for learning where reflective and generative dialogue and discourse are covenanted; debate and diatribe are intentional outside the ground rules. Organizational culture or environment eats any innovation, strategy, or dream like a hamburger. Knowledge Café is learning, exchange mindset, and space that creates the right knowledge transfer environment in a project economy. My goal for the café is to stimulate the appetite and curiosity for knowledge culture in all types of organizations. Some of the extracts are from my book, The Knowledge Café: Creating an Environment for Successful Knowledge Management (Anyacho, 2021).


A Knowledge Café is a mindset and an environment for engaging, discussing, and exchanging knowledge within a group, whether face-to-face or virtual. It’s a knowledge experimentation town square where it’s easier to share and reuse knowledge. Café is the environment that supports knowledge circulation and increases its velocity—“breeding” grounds for innovation. You may have practiced the café or some of its elements if you have engaged in the digital discussion board, enterprise knowledge wiki library, brown-bag lunch meetings, unstructured serendipitous exchanges, and water cooler conversations. A debate has its place but is not sustainable. Today’s toxic and hostile culture that prefers debate to dialogue calls us for dialogue—in a café. No amount of knowledge will equate to understanding. Café enables understanding. Everyone has a voice at the café.

The café space and mindset integrate face-to-face or virtual audio meetings with screen-sharing, whiteboarding/brainstorming, group chat for teams/projects, platforms for file sharing, social networking, collaborations, testing crazy ideas, idea generation, agile learning, honest questions, and answers (Anyacho, 2021, p2).


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the University of Maryland 2021 Virtual Project Management Symposium in April.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Anyacho, B.C. (2020). The Knowledge Cafe: Caffeinated Culture, Learning Agility in a Project Economy; presented at the University of Maryland 2021 Virtual Project Management Symposium, College Park, Maryland, USA in April 2021; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue VI, June. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/pmwj106-Jun2021-Anyacho-the-knowledge-cafe-learning-agility.pdf

About the Author

Benjamin Anyacho

Austin, Texas, USA


Benjamin Anyacho is passionate, a quintessential project and portfolio manager, knowledge management (KM) cognoscente for 20+ years, with a mission to mentor one million servant-leaders. He is fun and engaging and the author of The Knowledge Café knowledge management book for curious managers. Benjamin’s works have been recognized locally and globally. He has presented original content (research papers and presentations) at multiple PMI Global conferences and LIM, NASEM-TRB, AASHTO, university commencements, symposia, etc., and a Journal of Knowledge Management reviewer.

He is the Executive Director of Apostolic Bridge Builders, Inc. (ABB), Austin, Texas, since 2002. ABB has successfully rallied hundreds of leaders in government, business, education, media, nonprofit, and faith communities to the table to connect, collaborate, build synergy and partnership for cities/regional transformation.

As a senior project manager at the flagship state agency, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), he drove the development of an OPM program and the institutionalization of PM principles and methodologies. Benjamin mentored 43 PMPs who have mentored hundreds of PMs; 100+ became PMP certified since 2016; received a certificate of achievement for Outstanding Honorable Performance for high standards of excellence in PM by the TxDOT Executive Director, 2016. He is a $375M Campus Consolidation Project’s Change Champion. Benjamin initiated and guides the agency on the Knowledge Management program, designing several techniques and mentoring 50+ Communities of Practice.

A voting member of various committees/panels: National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine-TRB’s Information and KM Committee, NCHRP project panels, AASHTO’s Committee on KM, etc.  He is the TRB/AASHTO Information and Knowledge Management Research Subcommittee chair, 2021.

He was the 2018 charismatic president of the +3500-member PMI Austin Chapter, leading the board to increase NPS from 6.6 to 8.6, membership 12.11%, gained 97% overall CS.

Benjamin is a board of trustees’ member of Juliana King University, Houston, where he was honored with a doctorate in leadership, a radio host, author, certified PMP®, and holds an MBA in Global Business from St. Edward’s University Austin. A runner, he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Precious, and two teenage children, Ben and Amara.

Learn more or contact Ben at www.BenjaminAnyacho.com