Innovation is a general buzzword in many organizations. We all need it but few actually know how to get there. Given todays networking revolution, ideas seem u have found a new corral for development. Social Media and Networks are changing everything; not only are we facing a vast pool of communication methods and tools but we stand amidst a new era where ideas can flow and convert into bigger actions. How is this concept different from year´s before?
Connected users and customers are spearheading a change in the traditional business model. By allowing people to take center stage, not only are we getting closer to their needs and trends, but we are also bringing them into the production process and a side effect of this is brand loyalty.
For example, let´s take a look a quirky.com Quirky is a website that seeks to generate “socially developed products”. How does one participate in Quirky? All you need is an idea.
Once a person submits an idea it passes through a community filter where the idea is evaluated and improved by the quirky users. Anyone can become a member and see what ideas are being submitted. Once you log in, you can access all the ideas and post comments, evaluate the idea and propose improvements. Afterwards, the idea passes on to the hands of a Quirky team member who evaluates the product production. If the market data proves right, then the idea owner will be assisted in the following processes: research, design, branding, engineering… all the way up to manufacturing.
Many users have found in quirky a place to turn their ideas into action: from handbags to smartphone accessories, quirky not only seeks to create the product; it also looks to create a new market place where people can find genuine products: Devices such as the “Switch” modular pocketknife have allowed its creators to earn more than USD 30k in a short period of time. Other products like the “stem juice spray” have gained a total paid out of over USD 50k.
Ideasfor4.com is another example of a social network that seeks to provide users with a dynamic context where they can share their ideas and allow others to provide their insights. Ideas4all is available is English, Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese. Anyone can register and start submitting ideas. Unlike Quirky it doesn’t provide funding for ideas but it does allow users to obtain valuable feedback in order to enhance ideas.
This type of open innovation is changing just about everything. However there are some that view open innovation in terms of disruption and chaos. Apparently empowering people may have some side effects; the most popular: disruptive business models and the “free” flow of ideas (after all know-how = $)” how can you guarantee that a great idea isn´t bound to show up at my rival´s doorstep?”
Like it or not, open innovation is part of our essence. We no longer live in a world where we can progress by ourselves. We need ideas to flow so that others may act upon them, generate a new knowledge and share it once again so that knowledge may become socially developed. It’s all about rewiring the way we do business and in terms of Knowledge Management open innovation is crucial in order to maximize the power of knowledge generation. The convergence of User Innovation in Knowledge Management may be defined as “Knowledge Sourcing”.
Not only do we have to consider internal users but we must also think about expanding the reach of Knowledge Sourcing in order to include our clients and other potential strategic partners.
Companies such as a IBM, Procter & Gamble, Lego and Peugeot have developed systems that encourage this type of innovation. For example, Procter & Gamble develops 50 new products each year thanks to their innovation strategy.
We may also refer to Facebook´s strategy; after all we all know that the secret behind Facebook lies in it´s open development code. Application developers may develop products based on Facebook´s code and this “social” apps can be sold to millions of users. This way Facebook provides multiple ways of engaging users and app developers earn a handful of dollars. It’s a win-win relationship.
Did you also know that one of the earliest examples of Knowledge Sourcing is the Mountain Bike? Since existing commercial bikes were not up to the “off-road” challenge some young cyclists began to put together their own equipment and created a new a motorcycle. Finally the idea was bought by a mass producer who began to build the new type of bikes and soon other companies followed up as well. This happened around the mid 70s.
So if ever decide to ride a mountain bike remember that it was the people who brought that idea to life.
Also the other day I happened to catch a glimpse of the Spanish Movie “El Cosmonauta”. This movie kicked off with a minimum budget. In fact, the movie producer didn’t think his production would come to life so he decided to redefine the way movies are produced. Through crowdsourcing, he began to ask people to become part of the movie as producers by donating as much as 2 Euros. Through time, over 400,000 people began to participate in the project, thrilled by the fact that they could become producers and have their name appear in the movie credits. The movie itself operates under a creative commons license where anyone can distribute the movie and generate new works based on the original material.
Through crowdsourcing, the movie production team managed to raise over 450,000 Euros.
This type of people empowerment will generate huge benefits for all organizations. Given today´s scenario, personal knowledge is no longer a symbol of power. The true value of knowledge lies in its ability to be shared in order to generate new knowledge. This also demonstrates why the knowledge worker must also possess the ability to convey what he knows in an effective and simple way.
Knowledge transfer is enhanced when people have the opportunity to meet and share their knowledge; the more people get to know each other, their relationship is strengthened and this contributes in generating an appropriate exchange of information allowing it to become a reciprocal process.
So where do we start? In order to turn Knowledge Sourcing into a reality we need to start working on people; specifically on their culture towards knowledge sharing and promote community participation. If we concentrate only on technology we will not win in time. We need to promote a culture of learning, innovation and creativity. This will allow organizations to gain a competitive advantage and secure value generation in their products and services.