Tuesday, March 25, 2003

KM in R&D 2003
I took part in this Ark Group conference in London last week. The attendance was disappointingly small, but the round-table feel was a pleasant change from the usual classroom atmoshpere of a big event.

Main Question:
Is KM for R&D a special case? i.e does KM have anything special to say about the innovation process? This was not as well explored in conference as I would have hoped, and from the presentations you'd have to conclude 'no', as there was little that wouldn't apply to KM in manufacturing or sales. Mind you, one thing that emerged in discussions at the end was that if it really were so radically different, then KM would have a hard time encouraging knowledge flows in and out of R&D to other parts of an org.

Best Presentation:
Victor Newman from Pfizer. "Marketing will never understand a truly innovative product becasue it won't fit their mental models of the market".

Useful Concept:
Work out how knowledge would flow in your organization if geography were not an issue. Then look at what you need to do in KM terms to get the same flows going in the real world.

Intriguing Insight:
Knowledge banks, idea boxes, lessons learned databases etc. rarely get 'helped' by workers because there's no warm fuzzy feeling involved. An electronic 'thank you' just ain't the same. So either you need to make it clear that the repository is just an intermediary (e.g. I only Blog because people respond to what I say - eventually) or provide an extrinsic reward (read: cash). The trouble with cash is that people are much more sensitive to how its given, which means rules, which means game-playing by individuals to maximise their return. You don't get this with warm-fuzzy rewards because we have social systems that have evolved to moderate game-playing (i.e we see it as selfish, exploitative, manipulative etc.)

Best supporting Actress:
...sorry, got carried away there.

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