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Getting Rid of the Old to Make Way for the New: The Need for Innovation in Knowledge Management

1 April 2015
Revital Elazar
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A particular company operating in the food and beverage industry identified the need to connect its customer base to the company and its products. As an innovative solution, it created a dedicated online community website for its customers. The website allows the company's customers to enjoy various activities and content designed and planned precisely for them, as well as a dedicated area for submitting ideas for new products and sharing their opinions on the company's various products.

This company is not alone in its quest for innovation as a tool to promote knowledge sharing. In the last decade, business organizations worldwide and in Israel have begun to recognize that implementing an organizational infrastructure for knowledge management leads to organizational innovation and an advantage over competitors.

What is Innovation?

Innovation is creating value through new solutions to existing needs or by developing solutions for new ones. Innovation deals with doing something fundamentally differently, not just doing the same things better.

How many times have you been in a meeting, constantly thinking about an innovative solution that could solve the need/problem to improve the current situation? Or the desire to find an idea that no one else in the organization has thought of yet?

I believe you have been in such a situation at least once or have participated in a "brainstorming" session to improve existing processes and renew products in your organization.

As knowledge managers, we are asked to find or present solutions to needs arising from the field. In other words, to think "outside the box" and provide an end-user solution that is easier, simpler, more accessible, and faster.

So how do you do that?

Let's take a short journey...

  • The first and most complex step is identifying the need and focusing on the problem: The company I described at the beginning of the article extensively used focus groups, an online survey for its customer base, and brainstorming sessions with company employees to understand what wasn't working well enough in the current situation. In the second stage, the results were presented to the management team, who focused on "connecting the customer base to the company and creating a sense of belonging between them.

  • Now that we know what the problem is, we need to develop ideas for a solution. It's best to think practically, with the idea that the solution will be feasible and suitable for the broadest possible audience. In the company presented, several ideas were raised to connect customers to the company. These ranged from tours of the company's factories, free distribution of new products to a group of customers, promotions/coupons, customer participation in ideas for new products, and more.

  • Choosing the idea for implementation: All ideas may seem reasonable the first time we think of them. It's best not to dismiss ideas outright, but a thorough examination should be conducted according to various criteria tailored to the organizational strategy. The project team for developing the concept and the management team at the company in our story chose the innovative solution of a community website for customers, one that meets their needs and can be implemented with limited and defined resources despite being creative and unique.

  • Promoting the idea for execution - At this stage, innovation gives way to implementing the idea: writing a detailed specification, defining timelines for execution, and sharing and presenting the concept to relevant stakeholders for implementation while listening to suggestions for further improvements.

  • The journey reaches the finish line with the idea of reaching the end-users and going live.

As with any journey, there are challenges, adventures, difficulties, and sometimes even failures, which are part of a learning process that allows for improvement, change, and success in the next attempt. Don't stop yourself from thinking creatively and outside the box. No one is uncreative; we can all contribute to a process that results in a better and more innovative solution for existing needs.

Something to think about! While the trend encourages you to think "outside the box," you can think a little differently. Thinking "inside the group" ("inside the box") is a type of thinking that serves as an excellent springboard for ideas that are both relevant and feasible for the organization while also being unique and creative because they grew from within the organization and paved the way for new and exciting frontiers. For those interested in further exploring the topic of innovation, it is recommended to review the summary of the book:

Innovation is perceived as difficult to implement. Indeed, it is not easy and challenging - but it is certainly possible.

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