Exploiting KM in Support of Innovation and Change

Exploiting KM in Support of Innovation and Change

Peter Smith (The Leadership Alliance Inc., Canada) and Elayne Coakes (University of Westminster, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch112

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Introduction

In trying to most effectively implement KM and foster innovation and change it is tempting for an organization to begin by simply introducing a system-wide technological solution. When the predicted performance improvements are not achieved further technological upgrades will likely be undertaken. However, although the centralization and codification of knowledge via storage/retrieval systems and the like are often useful, a big impact on KM and related innovative performance should not be anticipated. This is because significant breakthroughs and competitive advantage typically come from the social exchange, exploitation, and augmentation of current tacit knowledge, rather than codified explicit knowledge based on past contexts. Without an understanding of the “as is” state of the organization’s inter-personal and collective relationships and their implications, plus an appreciation of how the organization’s culture influences these relationships, technological approaches are almost certainly doomed to failure. Indeed, a purely technological solution may make matters worse by creating a “credibility black hole” for future interventions. Sharing explicit and particularly tacit knowledge, and developing an open culture are typically challenging problems for organizations. In this chapter the authors describe a practical approach for resolving this concern. To this end they discuss the development of a positive organizational social fabric; the impact of “people factors” on relationships and knowledge sharing; the important role played by “Opinion Leaders” in ensuring that KM initiatives are undertaken only when social conditions are appropriate; practical means to identify these highly influential individuals and their networks; and an explanation of how identifying Innovation Champions will facilitate the formation of Communities of Innovation (CoInv) that will more effectively and speedily leverage an organization’s intellectual resources, and significantly enhance its innovative capability.

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