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'Open Innovation' - Knowledge Brokering

I have always been fascinated with the concept of open innovation, a few years (well many years) back while I was in B-School I read Tom Peters famous pictoral book 'Circle of Innovation' and ever since been arguing (with myself mostly) if - Is it innovation that sustains you in marketplace or is it better processes that nurture that innovation?. I am slowly beginnning to understand that its actaully a  balance of both and more importantly right timing. I say right timing because innovation at the wrong time is thrown out of the marketplace because the market is nor ready to accept that innovation.  Innovation at the right time changes the landscape of the society and brings financial success and sustainability to the company .  So what is open innovation? Since it has begun transforming global companies coming out with new products and been influential in bringing variety of strategic-operational solutions to organizational problems.

  Open innovation is creating a culture of participative management thinking and is rooted in the practice of knowledge brokering which is systemic approach to seek ideas externally from people from cross contextually from various disciplines and finding how combining them to your industry result into a innovation in the marketplace.

The idea here is the tap into people who are ready to share their experiences and most of them are ready to share that experience for free and this is a place where we generate ideas from the marketplace and leverage it back to the marketplace. It is more than just doing a survey , it is an ongoing active participation, knowledge brokering, knowledge storehousing, and then knowledge benchmarking. The on-going activity of generating experiences and ideas from the marketplace can go back in revising the benchmarks and knowledge sharing.

A closer look at the way forward-looking organizations use knowledge brokering to improve their business processes offers practical lessons for companies of all stripes and suggests how senior managers must adapt to thrive in a digital era characterized by increased collaboration.

Knowledge brokering offers companies an analogous capability. I suspect this idea must have come or pioneered by product designers in companies such as the design consultancy IDEO. In practice knowledge brokering is about forming project teams that initiate conversations with knowledge brokers—people willing to discuss their experiences to serve the teams’ needs—and then combine the external ideas with internal ones to improve these companies’ business processes. Sometimes the art of gathering or brokering this information can be tricky but is not rocket science by any means; a genuine interest to be a change agentp; a diplomatic front to seek good and the idea to give credit where credit is due will automatically enable you to gather these ideas.

Consultancy firm Mckinsey confirmed and reported in its study over the past four years,  the use of knowledge brokering among more than 50 teams they deployed at ten multinational companies in industries such as banking, consumer goods, high-tech products, shipping, engineering, retailing, and utilities. Each team used this approach to devise an innovative solution to a project assigned by senior management in areas including strategic planning, supply chains, sales and marketing, corporate social responsibility, and HR. When surveyed afterward, team members unanimously agreed that knowledge brokering increased the effectiveness of their projects—and two-thirds said it did so “greatly.” On average, it helped the teams design new processes twice as quickly as they would have expected to do by using conventional techniques.

Knowledge brokering is not copying but sharing ideas to innovate and bring that innovation when the market demands it or bringing it when the market is ready for it.

My thoughts for the day!

Sam Kurien

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