Coming of Age?
Many KM practitioners are currently talking of a second (or even third) generation of knowledge management. However, my colleagues in Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) over a decade ago were already thinking fifth generation - see for example "Fifth Generation Management", Charles Savage (1990). Debra, in her work, has also shown evolution of the knowledge movement through various stages. During the last year we have noticed how knowledge and innovation are increasingly talked about together - books, new products and methodologies, and various offerings from consultancies both large and small. After all, once you have shared internal knowledge and have implemented a portal so that information is readily accessible at your fingertips, how else can you exploit knowledge to make a difference? The answer is to convert knowledge into new products and services, quickly and effectively. This is the process that Debra called knowledge innovation® and also gave rise to her company's name ENTOVATION (ENTerprise innoVATION). Ten years on, the rest of the world is catching up with Debra's pioneering thinking (a major research house has recently launched a report on - guess what?: Enterprise Innovation!).
The following article, written by Debra in 1993, sets the scene. It's short, but offers valuable insights for those who want to take knowledge management forward onto a higher plane and into the next generation (whichever it is). Debra's thoughts are perhaps more valid (and valuable) now, than when the article was first written.
Enjoy and apply,
Imagine intellectual assets harnessed to solve collectively the problems that plague society.
Much has been written about technological innovation. Indeed, its strength has been tied to U.S. economic competitiveness. However, those dedicated to the learning profession-whether their classroom is corporate or on campus-know that real value also lies in the benefit society. There is hardly a function, organization, industry, or nation that is not undergoing massive transformation. These structural changes will set in motion some impacts we may not realize for decades.
In the twenty-first century, knowledge about products and services is likely to become as important as - perhaps even more important than - the discrete products themselves. Given the acceleration of technology development and world-wide global communication systems, enterprises will have to become far more innovative in how they partner with customers to create, transfer, and apply new knowledge within and across industries.
Looking at the future of our research enterprise from a pessimistic perspective, we could envision decreased investment from industry, continued fragmentation with the science and technology community, and an academic research agenda "driven" by the needs of industry. An optimist might see, instead, a collaborative strategy emerging with innovative relationships that benefit all partners. The network of expertise, enhanced by modern communication systems, enables us to advance the standard of living in our country and throughout the world. I believe such a vision is attainable.
In the evolution of technology transfer systems; I see the emergence of a knowledge innovation system in which people recognize the dynamic nature of the innovation process. Networked enterprises would be defined beyond the confines of a particular company, laboratory, or geography. With a multitude of research consortia, joint ventures, and alliances, managers will seek a more systematic understanding of how ideas originate and enter the marketplace.
Imagine a science and technology community interconnected without unnecessary or counterproductive duplication. Imagine the scientific breakthroughs of one entity leveraging the discoveries of another. Competition plays a role, but only as a catalyst for new ideas or to preserve the identity of individual partners. Imagine intellectual assets harnessed to solve collectively the problems that plague society.
The new focus on what I call knowledge innovation - the creation, exchange and application of new ideas into goods and services could fuse many diverse interests into a shared vision. Rather than allow serendipity to dictate our future, now is the time to take steps together and embrace the opportunities posed by the changes ahead.
First published in PRISM, the Journal of the American Society for Engineering Education (June 1993).
Knowledge Innovation® is a registered trademark of ENTOVATION International Ltd.
Email: Debra M. Amidon
with a Foreword by David J Skyrme
© Copyright, 2002. 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.