The need for innovation in Knowledge Management
By: Revital Elazar (Publication Date: 01/05/2015)

A certain organization active in the field of food and beverages detected a need to connect their target audience to the company and its products. Their innovation solution included launching a communal website for its customers. This site enables the customers to enjoy various activities and content designed and planned especially for them, including an area in which customers can offer their own two cents regarding the organization's products and share their experience with other customers as well as offer their own ideas for new products.

This organization is one of many organizations implementing innovative solutions. During the last decade, organizations all around the globe have begun to acknowledge that assimilating a Knowledge Management infrastructure yields organizational innovation and provides the organization with an edge over the competition.

Product innovation means creating added value either by implementing new solutions for existing needs or by creating solutions for new needs. Innovation refers to a paradigm shift, as opposed to tactically improving the existing solutions. How many times did you find yourself participating in a meeting and endlessly pondering on an innovative solution that can solve the problem or address the need and improve the current state of the organization or project? If not, I'm sure you would have liked to. Most workers have at least participated in a brain storming session conducted in order to improve existing procedures and products.

As KM managers, we are required to detect or provide solutions for the needs presented by the field. In other words, innovation is thinking "out of the box" and providing edge users with a solution as easy, simple, accessible quick as possible.

 

So how is it done?

  • The first step is somehow complicated. It consists of identifying the problem. The aforementioned food organization used focus groups; an internet survey for its target audience; brain storming conferences with the organization's workers. All, in order to fully understand the problem with the current state of business. They then presented the results of these tests to the chairmen of the board. The latter focused on the need for "connection between the customers and the organization and the need to create a relationship between the two".
  • We now know the nature of the problem and are required to provide our idea for a solution. It is highly recommended to think practically and submit only an applicable idea. Also, the idea must be suitable for the widest range of target audiences. For example, in the aforementioned organization's brainstorming sessions several ideas for enhancing the connection between the customers and the organization were brought up, including: tours of the company factories, free distribution of new products, discounts, coupons, etc.
  •   Deciding on an idea: Many ideas might seem great at first thought. Therefore, it is recommended to postpone judgment regarding drafts. Nevertheless, we must thoroughly inspect our ideas according to defined criteria of organizational strategy. The brainstorming team and the chairmen of the board in our example chose their solution (the communal customer site) since it innovatively addresses their needs yet can be implemented by utilizing limited, specified resources.
  • Promoting the idea to the stage of implementation: In this stage, innovation must be translated to an operative application plan: writing an orderly characterization of the idea, defining an execution schedule, sharing and presenting the idea to the personnel relevant to the implementation while listening to their remarks and suggestions.
  • The process reaches its completion. The idea is launched and reaches the edge users.

 

Like in any process, there are challenges, adventures, difficulties and sometimes-failures. Failures are part of the learning process which enables us to improve, change and hopefully succeed next time. Don't hold yourselves back from thinking creatively. Everyone has some creativity in them. We can all contribute to the process that will result with the production of a better, more innovative solution for our current needs.

Some food for thought: while thinking outside the box is important, it is important to remember that conventional ("in the box") thinking is a gateway to ideas that are relevant and applicable, yet still exceptional and creative. These ideas are made possible by the conventional-yet-flexible work environment.

For more on Innovation, I recommend the summary of 'Beyond The Idea: How to Execute Innovation in Any Organization'.

 

While innovation is challenging and difficult, it is indeed possible.

 
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