I3 UPDATE / Entovation International News

a free monthly briefing on the knowledge agenda

No. 47 January 2001





David J. Skyrme


David Skyrme Associates


Contents - Main Feature - Previous Feature - Knowledge Digest


The Innovation Gap

Reader Ross Ambrecht responds to our analysis in the article 'Knowledge Management: Has It Peaked?' in December's issue.

"David....As usual, a thought-provoking essay and some really interesting news from Debra and the K-World."

"A brief comment on the only 'gap' into which I may have some knowledge to throw: The innovation gap. First of all, my view of innovation is different than ideation or discovery. It means taking something from conception to practical use. The extent of "knowledge" which is created when a new product idea is conceived is only a fraction of what will be needed to put the product in the market. Some of us in R&D have been preaching that we never simply sell material; we sell material with knowledge embedded in it. The material is only a fraction of the value. Example: Think of the cost of Pentium III chip. What is the value of the material only? (just a few cents). What else is there? Yes, there is the value of the new product idea. But there is knowledge about electronics design, material properties, fabrication techniques, electronic packaging, testing methods, marketing, distribution, etc. At a second level, one pays for the same kinds of knowledge that is embedded in every fabrication tool or instrument used in the synthesis of the chip. Even when a closely-related product is conceived, the 'old' knowledge rarely fits just right; someone needs to conceive of new ways to manufacture, market, and make it fit all the old applications as well as the new.

In summary, the only way there is a true innovation 'gap' is if the development, manufacturing technology, marketing planning, distribution schemes, etc., are not included in the term 'innovation'. If they aren't, I think they should be.

I'd be interested in your view on this proposition.

Regards....Ross Armbrecht (r.armbrecht@alum.mit.edu)

Professionalization Revisited

Jerry Ash Replies

In your recent newsletter (I3 UDPATE No. 45) Robert Taylor said we can't "professionalize" KM because it is a broad movement more than it is a distinct set of skills and that KM will not achieve the same professional status as the professional subsets of KM such as organizational psychology, information management and so on.

In my view, it is precisely those arguments which indicate the need for a professional organization for people who work with knowledge; and, they may even justify the usefulness of professional certification. The knowledge business is interdisciplinary. If the knowledge movement is left to the silos of profession-specific associations, the movement will at least be fragmented and at worst be used inappropriately to further the causes of the traditional interests of those organizations. It's not intentional - it's as natural as the professional silos that are the bane of KM within our corporate structures.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of "big picture" knowledge professionals working alone in a field that has yet to be recognized as one. The Association of Knowledgework has attracted more than 400 of these in 23 countries at a time when only a fraction of the world's knowledge professionals have heard of AOK. AOK does not plan to offer credentialing for knowledge professionals, but I have to say that organizations like KMCI are pursuing a worthy cause.

Robert is right: knowledge professionals have a long way to go before they can match the bodies of knowledge possessed by the long established professions.However, the sooner knowledge professionals begin building their own base and standards of practice, the better. Certification programs are a way of doing that.

Finally, associations are - by their very nature - agencies of advocacy. It looks to me like KMers could use a few more advocates.

Jerry Ash
Chief Executive
Association of Knowledgework

Return to Top of Page - Previous Feature - Knowledge Digest

© Copyright, 2001. David Skyrme Associates Limited and Authors - All rights reserved.

I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News is a joint publication of David Skyrme Associates Limited and ENTOVATION International Limited - providers of trends analysis, strategic advice and workshops on knowledge management and knowledge innovation®

® Knowledge Innovation is a registered trademark of ENTOVATION International.



Original articles:
Knowledge Management: Has It Peaked? Knowledge Associations: Networks or Notworks?


Association of Knowledgework (AOK)

Other KM Links


Customers: a new twist on knowledge management

Virtual teaming and virtual organizations: 25 principles of proven practice

Measurement myopia; those who measure and those who act

Portal power: gateways or trapdoors?

Creativity is not innovation

Virtual trust

China: accepting the knowledge challenge

Innovation action for Europe