State of the Art

Business Literacy 2000

 

The Study Guide for...

Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy: The Ken Awakening

The Consortium for Business Literacy is a group of business book publishers brought together by a desire to redefine the term "business literacy," broadening it to include not only understanding of the financial aspects of business, but also the capacity to utilize the theories and practices that will take successful people and organizations into the new millennium.

We are living in an economy of kaleidoscopic change. Speed is accelerating, but it is the unexpected influences caused by multiple, simultaneous changes which challenge the most indomitable manager.

Hardly a function, sector, industry or corner of the globe is unaffected by these new economic, social and technological conditions. The focus has become one of knowledge, learning, intellectual capital and innovation. Indeed, this emerging ‘community of knowledge practice’ represents a refreshing vision beyond the practices of quality and re-engineering.

The driving force for writing this book was to integrate theory and practice. This was done by providing a history of the movement, a framework for implementation and a vision for the future. By design, it is not laden with case study material. The intent is to unleash the imagination of managers to participate in creating a new form of management - beyond the outdated industrial Tayloristic models and the divisionalization strategies of Alfred P. Sloan. That being the case, new managerial standards are evolving rapidly and organizations are seeking more progressive tools and technologies to capitalize upon the opportunities afforded by this knowledge economy.

A major transformation is underway - worldwide. This focus on knowledge is fundamental - not the latest management consulting fad. To structure progress amidst such management dynamics requires some mutual purpose, common language and shared vision. There is a universality in the changes and when similarities are recognized, boundaries and obstacles begin to fade. ‘Ken’ - as a unifying term - has meaning in many languages of our society. Each definition provides a facet of the elements to be managed which are in constant motion or realignment.

The book is designed as a relatively quick read. One can easily grasp the scope of the evolution toward this knowledge perspective - its core principles, a systematic method for assessment and practical suggestions for taking the first steps. How the ideas are embraced - individually and collectively - will determine the benefit to your organization. This is a discovery process - one which should be shared.

True theorists may consider the contents of the book simplistic. Close-minded managers may consider the ideas too theoretical and visionary. Managerial leaders - from both profit and no-profit sectors - are likely to find the ideas probing, compelling and ready for practice.

Remember, the knowledge economy is a very personal economy. Unlike previous agricultural, industrial and information eras, knowledge resides within you. Success will come from how well you are able to create new ideas, enable good ideas to progress and eventually ensure that they are converted into products and services which benefit your constituency. For most organizations, the ability to create a sustainable future is directly proportional to how they nurture and develop their intellectual capability.

Chapter Scope Purpose Discussion Questions
1. Awakening Context To focus on knowledge strategy as fundamental, not a fad. Q1. What have you observed in the shift to the knowledge economy?

Q2. How would you define the innovation process in your enterprise?

2. Kaleidoscope Dynamics Context To put change into a positive light with a mandate for innovation Q1. Using Figure 2-1, plot where your organization is and should be.

Q2. Name the relative strengths/weaknesses of different organizations.

3. Wellsprings Timelines Context To scope the evolution of the knowledge movement and key events and influencers. Q1. Using the steps on pages 28-29, plot your own journey on timelines.

Q2. Create an Executive Briefing package of key articles/references.

4. Community of Practice Content To identify the multiple functional views coming to a common language Q1. Using Figure 4-2, describe the common language which is emerging.

Q2. Create a chart of how your function/business adds value to the others.

5. Innovation Value-System Content To refocus from a value chain to a system of interdependent activities. Q1. Complete the Litmus Test on pages 62-63. Contrast perspectives.

Q2. Discuss how innovation occurs in your organization - linear vs. systems

6. Management Architecture Content To identify the economic, behavioural and technological factors for sustainability. Q1. Does your organization use a management architecture or framework?

Q2. Create a map of your own Strategic Business Network (see Figure 6-2)

7. Internal Assessment Calibration To gauge the innovation capability of variables considered upstream in the innovation cycle Q1. Discuss the ten dimensions of innovation strategy (see Figure 7-1).

Q2. Answer the 5 sets of questions according to the current and desired state.

8. External Assessment Calibration To gauge the innovation capability of variables considered downstream in the innovation cycle Q1. Answer the 5 sets of questions according to the current and desired state.

Q2. Complete and contrast the radar chart (Figure 8-2). Determine top priorities.

9. Customer Content To identify ways to consider external stakeholders as sources of knowledge Q1. Discuss your current customer interaction. Are they sources of knowledge?

Q2. What is the difference between customer satisfaction and customer success?

10. Future Future To envision a desirable end-state and the activities required to realize future goals Q1. Create your own Foresight Timeline (Figure 10-1).

Q2. What managerial standards are emerging? Contrast with pages 141-142.

Tips for Study Groups:

1. Selecting a Study Group: Ideally, group members will represent a variety of functions in the value-systems (e.g., finance, human resources, information technology, quality, research, engineering, manufacturing marketing, sales, service et al). Each will read the book with a different paradigm - skills, education, values, functional role, business perspective and aspirations. These are the ‘complementary competencies’ to be brought to bear in building the innovation capability.

2. Determining Subject Areas for Discussion: There are four basic parts of he book: Context (Chapters 1, 2 and 3), Content (4, 5, 6 and 9), Calibration (Chapters 7 and 8); and Future (Chapter 10). Discussion can focus upon each chapter individually or assignments could be made for each section of clustered insights.

3. Completing the Innovation Assessment: The assessment can be done individually, completing the radar chart in Figure 8-2. The individual reader should attempt to answer the questions to the best of his/her knowledge and vantage point in the organization. Then, the completed charts can be shared with the group. This can be done as members of the study group and/or with an extended group of managers representing leadership across functions, business units or market segments.

4. Discussing the Results: Dialogue is more important than the numbers. The particular rating someone or a group selects is not as important as the meaning behind the choice. The reason someone selects a number often represents the untapped, tacit knowledge of the colleague. Be open to non-traditional thinking of others. Sometimes one’s explanation may provide a counterpoint to the discussion and open a whole new dimension of thinking.

5. Discovering Hidden Insights: Value your first impressions. There are some guiding practices which may emerge from the discussion. It is too early to judge comments. Initially, all perceptions are valid. Through an exploration of the reasons behind certain ratings, the group may uncover insights which could lead to alternative business strategies and improved management operations.

6. Using Imagery: The quote selected at the beginning of each chapter is intended to capture the essence of the inherent messages. Imagery, metaphors and visualization are important techniques in the knowledge economy. In the midst of such managerial complexity, people seek simplicity. The book includes several examples (e.g., the wellsprings metaphor, the notion of kaleidoscopic dynamics, etc). How do these - or some of your own better examples - enable you to discuss the concepts more effectively.

7. Share Your Results: The knowledge economy thrives on the sharing of insights with one another. The book describes the evolution to 5th generation business. By providing your results with the ENTOVATION Network, we are able to develop the management foundation for 6th generation. This is the essence of ‘ken’ - an understanding, range of vision, discovered in centering amidst chaos, sharing diverse perspectives, and applying insights for the mutual prosperity of our organization and society.

For more information on the Study Guide to The Ken Awakening, contact Debra M. Amidon debra@entovation.com
1997 Copyright ENTOVATION International, Ltd. All rights reserved.
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State of the Art: Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy - The Ken Awakening | State of the Practice: Creating the Knowledge-Based Business | State of the Future: Collaborative Innovation and the Knowledge Economy |
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Last updated: 15 Aug 1999