The Innovation Superhighway: Harnessing Intellectual Capital for Collaborative Advantage

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The Innovation SuperHighway: Harnessing Intellectual Capital for Sustainable Collaborative Advantage (ISBN: 0-7506-7592-6)

By Debra M. Amidon, Founder and CEO, ENTOVATION International, Ltd. –

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.

The world is now our manageable landscape. Connections are made East-to-West, North-to-South with many nodes in between. But The Innovation SuperHighway is not only a physical infrastructure, albeit technical and electronic. It is human – a function of insight, interaction and imagination resident in the minds, hearts and hands of people around the globe.

Ours is now 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 world 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 innovation practice’ represents a refreshing vision beyond the practices of quality, re-engineering and traditional KM.

The driving force for writing this book was to scope progress on various aspects of knowledge strategy across disciplines, and nations. The intent was to integrate theory and practice by outlining: The Innovation Frontier, Architecting a Future, The Globe as a network, Innovation Leadership and The Millennium Vision. By design, it is not laden with case study material. Instead, it features the new knowledge value proposition, ken practitioners, examples of innovation infrastructures and more. It offers a glimpse into youth – our Knowledge Millennium Generation and a blueprint for creating an international exchange that crosses all the boundaries.

The original intent of the global information infrastructure – mislabeled as the information superhighway – was far more about social than technological networks. Knowledge resides within people; and people make things happen. Innovation is how knowledge gets put into action. Thus, reading this book - and processing insights collectively as groups – is most appropriate. The reader is challenged to become the actor – catalyst and innovator – to evolve these modern managerial standards, take advantage of the socio-technological advances and capitalize upon this era of unprecedented change and opportunity.

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 to benefit your constituency. For most organizations, the ability to create a sustainable future is directly proportional to how they nurture, develop and leverage their intellectual capability.

What follows is an outline of the book and questions for each chapter to stimulate the conversation about your own insights and observations. The dialogue can occur face-to-face, electronic or a blending of both. It may be held within the context of an organization, a community of practice and/or groups that - by design - connect disciplines, sectors, or regions of the world. Most important, let us know your progress…

Chapter Scope Purpose Discussion Questions
1. Global Imperative for Sustainability - The Why? Innovation Frontier To position knowledge strategy as a fundamental evolution, not a fad. Q1. What pivotal events have you observed shaping the knowledge economy?

Q2. What are the knowledge implications to the variables for sustainable growth?

2. Knowledge Value Proposition - The What? Innovation Frontier To identify the three pivotal elements which resolve the productivity paradox. Q1. Using Figure 2-1, identify successful initiatives that balance all 3 elements.

Q2. Using Figure 2-2, examine your experience and examples of Knowledge Innovation©.

3. Planning to Innovation - The How? Innovation Frontier To illustrate how to migrate beyond traditional business planning. Q1. What are the relative advantages of an enterprise-wide innovation strategy?

Q2. Chart your current and desired status on each of the 10 dimensions on Pg. 40.

4. Knowledge Performance Economics Architecting a Future To explore the trends, strategies and progress in modern IC measurement. Q1. Review the architectural considerations (Pg. 64).

Q2. Name some successful examples of these concepts in practice.

5. Knowledge Structures Architecting a Future To explore the trends strategies and progress in modern organizational structures/networks. Q1. Review the architectural considerations (Pg. 79).

Q2. Name some successful examples of these concepts in practice.

6. Knowledge Workers Architecting a Future To explore the trends, strategies and progress at the individual level. Q1. Review the architectural considerations (Pg. 94).

Q2. Name some successful examples of these concepts in practice.

7. Knowledge Processes Architecting a Future To explore the trends, strategies and progress through the innovation cycle. Q1. Review the architectural considerations (Pg. 109).

Q2. Name some successful examples of these concepts in practice.

8. Knowledge Processing Technology Architecting a Future To explore the trends, strategies and progress in computer and communications technology. Q1. Review the architectural considerations (Pg. 123-124).

Q2. Name some successful examples of these concepts in practice.

9. Case Study ENTOVATION Globe as a Network To provide a working example of a global virtual community - problems and promise. Q1. What are some other lessons of virtual networks - strengths and weakness?

Q2. How can social capital successfully be developed (and preserved) over time?

10. Global Momentum Globe as a Network To report on the collective wisdom of the E100 from interviews. Q1. Meet the Entovation 100 on the Global Knowledge Leadership Map!

Q2. Answer the questions on page 153 for yourself; and share insights.

11. Trends of Innovation Strategy Globe as a Network To report on the trends within the 10 dimensions of innovation strategy. Q1. Are the 5 meta-views (Table 11.1) representative of your own observations?

Q2. Calibrate your priority areas for focused attention on the Figure on Pg. 180.

12. The 7 C's Innovation Leadership To outline what is different about leadership in the Knowledge Economy. Q1. Is there agreement in the importance of the 7C's? What's missing?

Q2. Take (and share your results of) the Leadership Litmus Test - Pg. 218.

13. Ken Practitioners Innovation Leadership To provide diverse facets of expertise and experience of global theorists and practitioners. Q1. Name examples of people you admire and from whom you have learned.

Q2. What are the benefits of harnessing collaborative (not competitive) advantage?

14. Innovation Infrastructures Innovation Leadership To offer some illustrative examples of global interdependence - superhighways in action.  Q1. Provide some other examples (i.e., societal, regional, national and enterprise).

Q2. How could these be managed differently as 'portals of information'?

15. Knowledge Millennium Generation  Millennium Vision To illustrate how our future - the youth of the world - is connecting for innovation purpose. Q1. Name other knowledge initiatives - local or international - with/for youth.

Q2. How can this new generation of social entrepreneurs be better supported?

16. Blueprint for 21st Century Innovation  Millennium Vision To provide the case and foundation for prosperous innovation strategy. Q1. Name your planning assumptions to manage our future as an asset (Pg. 303).

Q2. Using Figure 16.2, can we architect more sustainable enterprises and world?

17. World Trade of Ideas Millennium Vision To review our lessons learned in a context of unprecedented opportunity.  Q1. Is your own vision consistent with the E100 interviews (Pg. 319)? 

Q2. How can we ensure The Innovation SuperHighway reaches its full potential?

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 five basic parts of he book: Innovation Frontier (Chapters 1, 2 and 3), Architecture (Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8), Globe Network (Chapters 9, 10 and 11); Leadership (Chapters 12, 13, and 14); and Vision (Chapter 15, 16 and 17). Discussion can focus upon each chapter individually or assignments could be made for each section of clustered insights.

3. Completing the Innovation Assessment: The Knowledge Innovation® Assessment appeared in the book, Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy: the Ken Awakening, the compendium book for The Innovation SuperHighway. This assessment can be done individually, completing the radar chart similar to the Case Study in Figure 11.2 on Page 193. 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 selects or the meaning behind his or her observations are always worth further exploration. This is how the conversation – virtual or face-to-face can tap into the 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 that 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 6th 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. Enjoy your journey on The Innovation SuperHighway!

For more information on the Study Guide to The Innovation SuperHighway, contact Debra M. Amidon
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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 Jun 2004