[E100 Alert] - 'Where Knowledge Meets Innovation' - Theme 9 European KM Study Released

Dear E100:

We were in the meetings in Monterrey, Mexico, at the E100 Roundtable hosted by Dr. F. Javier Carrillo. Dr. Edna Pasher returned from her video interaction with a major European Union Forum, sharing some of the real-time results of the meeting. Moreover, the role that she and another E100, Dr. Ron Dvir, appears to have been instrumental in European KM meeting and subsequent document insights. They join Bernd Bredehorst, Patricia Wolf as co-authors.

Now featured in the ENTOVATION PressRoom are the report (3/3/04); Edna Pasher's Presentation (11/11/03); and Ron Dvir's earlier 'Innovation Engines for Knowledge Cities (11/25/03). All 3 are compelling and timely as we head for Barcelona.

In a previous E100 Alert, we outlined the positioning of Knowledge Innovation as the advancement beyond 'traditional' Knowledge Management (KM) approaches. Indeed, most consulting firms - traditional and start-up - are now promoting products and services to accelerate the innovation process - and according to the flow of knowledge, not technology. In 1987, this was foreign; today, it is the essence of successful business practice.

On March 3, 2004, what could be considered a seminal document the European KM Consortium was released. Members of the Consortium include:

  • Atos: Atos Origin, Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
  • BIBA: Bremen Institute of Industrial Technology and Applied Work Science at the University of Bremen (BIBA), Bremen, Germany
  • BOC: BOC Information Technologies Consulting GmbH, Vienna, Austria
  • BT: BT - British Telecom, UK
  • IAO: Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (FhG-IAO), Stuttgart Germany
  • IAT: University of Stuttgart - Institute for Human Factors and Technology Management (IAT), Stuttgart, Germany
  • Ibermatica: Ibermatica: Madrid, Spain
  • KMI: Knowledge Media Institut - Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • ICN: Siemens AG ICN, Munich, Germany
  • Sift: Sift Group Ltd., Bristol, UK
  • UNOTT: University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

What follows are some of the highlights of the report as well as several hotlinks to the KnowledgeBoard discussions and resources.

This is one excellent example of learning from and leading our various spheres of influence.

Always in your Network,

Please abide by the copyright - reprinted here with permission:
Copyright 2000-2003, The European KM Forum Consortium
Study Conclusions:

During the time from 03. November 2003 - 02. November 2003 Theme 9 revolved around the topic 'How to Exploit Knowledge for Innovation'. Online workshops, keynotes and question & answers sessions as well as offline activities like interviews and a workshop at the KM Europe 2003 exhibition in Amsterdam lead to fruitful discussions and statements from various participants.

Exploiting knowledge for innovation turned out to be one of the most serious and promising topics and part of any serious task list. However, the mentioned and discussed variety of directions where innovation is felt as crucial discipline or prerequisite for being able to stay productive and competitive or even to keep, ensure, enable mankind's level of  (economic) wealth, living together and supply is quiet big.

Concerning organizations innovation is seen as a source of high potential to stay competitive in a global market spinning at high pace. Whereas knowledge and knowledge management can play the foundation for enabling and steering innovation and belonging processes.

Concerning societal and environmental issues participants articulated the need for radical innovative solutions and ways. Reasonable are e.g. the ongoing trend of growing population in cities, the question how to build knowledge cities, increase of virtual communities vs. decrease of neighborhood communication or today's school and learning systems. The creation of new ideas that are potentially leading to innovation seems to rely quite heavily on communication behavior and opportunities between different people. Multidisciplinary and inter- organizational exchange needs to be supported by architectural environments that stimulate such kind of communication. For the future, we will need not only architectural solutions for real buildings and knowledge cities but also for virtual environments.

Since quiet some time now innovation is becoming a serious discipline and might be the successor of knowledge management as a slowly fading hype of the past decade. This is underpinned by new created and implemented roles and responsibilities like Innovation Management re Innovation Manager displayed as job title at today's business cards or organization charts.

Nonetheless, it will be difficult or even impossible to separate one from another and more likely the baby just will get a new name or label instead of omitting KM as a discipline re method.

Prof. Gary Hamel, provided ground for a discussion at the virtual workshop, describing the 'resilience gap':

  • The Cognitive challenge: A company must become free of denial, nostalgia and arrogance and be deeply conscious of changes that are likely to affect its success.
  • The Strategic challenge: Resilience requires alternatives as well as awareness; creating a plethora of new options as compelling alternatives to dying strategies.
  • The Political challenge: An organization must be able to divert resources from yesterday's products and programmes to tomorrow's.
  • The Ideological challenge: Companies need to embrace a creed that extends beyond operational excellence and flawless execution.

One of the keynote discussions was delivered by Hank Kune (Educore) & Gerald Prast (AVV Transport Research Centre) called 'Critical success factors for innovation' with findings based mainly on the results from the NOVA, an innovation project at the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, The Netherlands.

There was general agreement these 14 decisive factors that were clustered into four categories (i.e., organization: structure; organization culture; people and environment):

  1. Treat innovation as a systematic process.
  2. Keep innovation separate from daily work.
  3. Set ambitious goals and combine these with small attainable steps.
  4. Focus on results.
  5. Learn from the innovation process.
  6. Create a climate for creativity.
  7. Foster values that enhance innovation.
  8. Break patterns, abandon accepted truths.
  9. Motivate personnel.
  10. Make people central.
  11. Communicate about the innovations.
  12. Involve the top directly.
  13. Search for and make use of opportunities.
  14. Be customer-oriented.

In an interview with Karin Auernhammer (Fraunhofer Society), provided a glimpse into the concept and results of CIKM framework a project that aimed to examine the relationship between KM and IM. The main research objective was to find out typical and successful approaches for managing knowledge in order to develop economically successful innovation depending on the company 's specific contingency factors.

Based on survey data, results from focus group sessions and case study interviews the data analysis revealed six themes that seem to be important:

  • "Drivers of innovation" - many organisations were being driven to innovate by their customers or the marketplace in general. Only some were being driven by the need to develop solutions or applications to issues that might not yet have been identified by the marketplace.
  • "Strategy"-  organisations do not see an explicit knowledge management strategy within their organisation.
  • "Ownership of Innovation Role" - innovation is arising out of social interaction, so highly innovative companies employ organisational practices that facilitate the innovation process: flexible structures, characterised by the absence of formality and hierarchy.
  • "Metric" - none of the organisations had an official measurement system to measure innovation performance, but there was a genuine interest to discuss about the topic of measurement.
  • "Knowledge processes and knowledge types" - sources of knowledge include face to face/people based interaction, culture, contacts to the industry you are in, knowledge providers and networking with cooperation partners like institutes and suppliers.
  • "Culture" - organisational culture and workers motivation can bring forward a company to a collective cognition. Networking, community of practice and formal programmes for the development of employees are supporting elements.

According the topic management of 'tacit knowledge' the Karin Auernhammer replied that a wide range of knowledge processes was made available to access data for innovation. A case study company from the financial sector specifically commented on concerns relating to tacit knowledge, seeing it as 'knowledge locked inside heads', and that their concerns now focus on 'the risk of losing a key person in the business'. A second case study confirmed that 'brain drain' is a key issue 'employees have been stopped from early retirement unless they have shared their knowledge'.

Major trends within the next 5 years will be shaped by technology
convergence and the totally new business opportunities resulting from this.

This will in turn increase the need for new methods of exchanging knowledge between partners and integration of the knowledge of different disciplines.

Another trend is that systems of knowledge flows depend on the subject, the specific design of a innovation network and its related products. Applied research takes up a key position in linking technology and markets as well as in linking networks of excellence from different disciplines.

Read more:


"Innovation = (New Use + Invention) x Exploitation."
- NIMCube Project


Debra M. Amidon
Founder and CEO
ENTOVATION International Ltd.
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E-mail: debra@entovation.com
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