Knowledge and Innovation Management: the odd couple
‘To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge – Confucius
Many of us often focus on creativity as a key dimension of innovation and tend to de-emphasize the importance of knowledge in favor of integrating view-points in a collaborative way. In fact, creativity is imagination, but not in a vacuum; rather in a creative space with dimensions rooted also in existing knowledge. Moreover, from time to time we re-frame an industry knowledge domain and look at it in new ways as a basis to innovate.
Indeed, you should not overlook the “knowledge factor” in innovation management. Think of a domain-specific product engineering resulting in a distinctive new design or new category. Think of re-inventing a business process based on industry-specific and market knowledge. Think of building a new technology based on deep knowledge of the trajectory it can take.
In fact, different types of knowledge are helpful for different purposes along the innovation process. Knowledge on market and technology trends helps to prioritize your research portfolio. Experts involved in the idea management process are crucial to evaluate ideas. Building company-specific knowledge on a technology that is foundational for a business can enhance the basis of product innovation.
As open innovation suggest, you not should limit to internal knowledge, yet you still require somebody with you that is knowledgeable enough to evaluate which type of knowledge you need and who can provide it on demand.
What are the consequences for innovation management? Here are some examples. Invest in research to build company-specific and unique knowledge. Use that knowledge to select which external knowledge is meaningful to be insourced via knowledge-transfer, or new hires or M&A. Develop competencies to integrate knowledge: content management, communities of interest.
As we move forward, we consume an increasing amount of information from an increasing number of sources and innovation teams continuously re-evaluate what they know towards the art of the possible to challenge ultimately existing frames and go further with innovation.
Time to go. I leave you with a question: How do you connect you innovation process with knowledge sharing and knowledge management?
About the author:
Marco Cigaina is Program Manager in SAP Service Innovation. He focuses on service innovation research, innovation management, and integration of stakeholders in the innovation process. He is the author of the book “Innovation Management Framework: enabling and fostering innovation in your company“.