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Knowledge management has become a well known term. But the real challenge facing most companies is that of faster innovation. Creating the system within which ideas are created and applied is more than management. It is a matter of strategy and leadership. That's where Knowledge Innovation comes to the fore.

On this page you will find answers to frequently asked questions about Knowledge Innovation. Accompanying pages cover the context, State-of-the-Art, State-of-the-Practice and State-of-the Future.

What is Knowledge Innovation?

The creation, evolution, exchange and application of new ideas into marketable goods and services for:

  • the success of an enterprise
  • the vitality of a nation's economy
  • the advancement of society

Knowledge Innovation embodies the concept that innovation is the one competence needed for the future. It addresses the all the fundamental management dimensions in the process of innovation - the creation and conversion of ideas into viable commercial products in addition to building a foundation for future sustainable growth. It recognizes that knowledge is the core component of innovation - not technology or finances per se. Nurturing and managing the flow of knowledge may be the most distinctive competence of the decade.

Debra M. Amidon's book, Innovation Strategies for the Knowledge Economy: The Ken Awakening explain the principles of knowledge innovation. ENTOVATION's Knowledge Innovation Assessment is a way of assessing your innovation capabilities and developing improved innovation strategies.

What are the Core Principles of Knowledge Innovation?

There are five core concepts that distinguish knowledge innovation from other knowledge and innovation approaches:

  • Innovation Value System (not value chain) - value chain thinking is linear and static. The innovation value system is dynamic and shows all the interdependent relationships that are need to be developed for successful innovation.
  • Strategic Business Network (not Strategic Business Units) - strategic business unit management tends to create isolated islands of knowledge. The Strategic Business Network encourages the flow of knowledge between partners, customers, suppliers, research organisations and other stakeholders, including competitors, in the innovation process.
  • Collaborative (not Competitive) Advantage - Competitive strategies create win-lose scenarios, often competing for a share of the same pie. Collaborative strategies encourage win-win situations through symbiotic relationships. Knowledge grows and the pie gets bigger for all.
  • Customer Success (not Satisfaction) - Customer satisfaction meets today's articulated need. A focus on the success of your customer helps identify those future unarticulated needs, the source of growth and future success. ENTOVATION's Innovating with the Customer services help you make the transition.

Ken as the unifying principle and force.

What is Ken?

From the dictionary:
ken v. 1. To know (a person or thing). 2. To recognize. 3. To descry (i.e. discern something difficult to catch sight of; discover through careful observation or investigation); to have an understanding of something. n. 1. Perception; understanding. 2.a. Range of vision. b. View; sight; to make known. Ken therefore takes us beyond knowledge. It is the underlying focus of knowledge innovation. It is about deep understanding, discovering the unknown, gaining new perspectives and envisioning the future.

What is the difference between Knowledge Management and Knowledge Innovation?

Knowledge management is now widely practiced. But much of this practice is based on "sharing what we know", such as best practice. More forward looking companies are developing the role of knowledge in their innovation processes. This is where future success will come. It goes beyond the 5 or 10 per cent year-on-year continuous improvements from sharing existing knowledge but the 10 fold and even 100 fold breakthroughs from innovation. Effective knowledge management is a necessary prerequisite. Knowledge innovation is one further step on the management performance trajectory, that integrates knowledge management with innovation management.

What is the Community of Knowledge Practice?

A Community of Practice is an informal network of people sharing ideas and developing knowledge in pursuit of common interests and goals - "not a team, not a task force, not necessarily an authorized or identified group ... but peers in the execution of real work" (John Seely Brown, Xerox Parc). Such a community is evolving around the strategic focus of knowledge. It draws together people from all disciplines and functions, all countries and all industries (see the article Communities of Knowledge Practice). ENTOVATION International fosters Communities of Knowledge Practice through its Network.

How can I find out more about Knowledge Innovation and apply it in my organisation?

First, we suggest you go through the Litmus Test, a quick way of gauging where your organisation stands against world-class best practice. Then, if you haven't already, we suggest you read the book: Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy: The Ken Awakening, by Debra M. Amidon.

For more in depth understanding:

We recommend our Introductory Practicum (#1 in a series of 5 practicums), ENTOVATION's Knowledge Innovation Software, and ENTOVATION International's strategic consultancy services on knowledge management and Knowledge Innovation.

If You Have a Question:

If you have a question about Knowledge Innovation or ENTOVATION International, please email Debra M. Amidon at debra@entovation.com


Knowledge Innovation | The Momentum of Knowledge Innovation | Ten Definitions of Knowledge Innovation | The Emerging Community of Knowledge Practice | Power of Innovation |

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Last updated: 22 Aug 1999