How Do Knowledge Sharing and Innovation Pair Together? 

Corporate knowledge sharing is all well and good. Teams work together to get to the bottom of projects by imparting their subject-specific knowledge with others and employees might leave these exchanges knowing a little more than they did beforehand. But what happens when you focus on these instances of knowledge sharing and try to make more of them?
 
Any company CEO or manager of the 21st century is likely trying to find new ways to innovate and push their organisation to new heights. Since companies that focus on knowledge sharing see an empirical increase in employee job satisfaction, they are also likely to reach new, innovative heights with their team of bright minds.
 
After all, an estimate has shown that Fortune 500 companies lose around $31.5 billion per year by failing to help their teams share knowledge with each other.
 
So, how can your company make the most of knowledge sharing and innovation?

Facilitating innovation through knowledge sharing

A 2020 review by Castaneda and Cuellar demonstrated an overarching collection of evidence that knowledge sharing and innovation are intrinsically linked. Backed up by plenty of supporting evidence such as Kamasak and Bulutlar’s 2010 study, the former was able to point to a strong relationship between the two variables.
 
For more context, Kamasak and Bulutlar studied 246 middle and top-level workplace managers in Turkey. It was discovered that there was a significant positive relationship between the presence of knowledge collection and all types of innovation.
 
But these are just two examples. There are dozens of studies showing how a culture of knowledge sharing and appropriate support mechanisms, helps drive innovation and growth
 

So what are the different types of innovation and how can knowledge sharing influence them?

Innovation can be split into four different types. Instead of aiming for a vague idea of innovation, companies can use knowledge sharing to develop these four specific types. 

Incremental innovation. This is usually the most frequently observed kind of innovation in a company. It’s about creating new iterations of existing products and services to increase their value. A great way to facilitate incremental innovation across your company is to ensure that key projects and operations are documented – lessons are learned, best practices are captured and opportunities are made visible. The After-Action-Review is one such example, is currently used by global companies after it was created to monitor and improve the performance of the US Army.

Disruptive innovation – Happening with the introduction of a new technology that ‘disrupts’ the overall marketplace. To make disruptive innovation happen a company must be continuously looking at trends and market insights, capturing and sharing them across teams with speed.

Architectural innovation. Could your company benefit from transferring skills and successful technology from one division to the other? This is the underlying idea behind architectural innovation – putting together different products or services, that were not combined before, to create something better. As studies show, one key facilitator of architectural innovation is the exploitation of accumulated knowledge. And this comes to show why having the right knowledge sharing processes and technologies in place is instrumental for driving organisational innovation. 

Radical innovation. This might be what springs to mind when you think of innovation. It describes groundbreaking revolutions that are amongst the first of their kind. For example, the invention of the telephone and aeroplane were pieces of radical innovation that transformed the fields of communication and travel, respectively. When it comes to radical innovation, oversharing can pose risks and lead to accidental knowledge leakage. But when it happens inside the organisations, among members of the same team working on the innovation, it can lead to enhancements in innovation speed and financial performance.  

Why is innovation central to the growth of a company?

Companies need to stay one step ahead of their competitors to become market leaders. To do this, they will need to decide which of the four innovation types is most attainable and relevant to their growth plan. It is not always realistic for companies to attempt radical innovation, for example.

As discussed by Castaneda and Cuellar, knowledge sharing is almost essential for innovation attempts to be successful—the latter is unlikely to happen without the former. This is true no matter the innovation type. 

If a company is on a mission to build something better than what itself and competitors are currently offering, that’s going to require the knowledgeable input of multiple people from different areas of the company. This is especially true when attempting a risky piece of disruptive innovation that relies on accurate execution.

At the core of knowledge sharing is the company’s need to make the exchange of expertise as easy as possible. For many modern outfits, this might involve setting up a digital platform that makes knowledge sharing easy. If this is the case, there will need to be a dedicated team that oversees the building of the platform

Companies that take innovation and knowledge sharing seriously have already implemented platforms that help staff to share and find insights faster. From creating a central base for all market insights and customer knowledge to being able to find the right information by keywords, platforms such Elium integrate with the most common workplace applications to make knowledge sharing a breeze. 

If your company invests in a central knowledge-sharing platform that is accessible to everyone, you will be one step closer to facilitating innovation in your company.

How can you facilitate knowledge sharing in your company? 

Here are a few ways in which knowledge sharing tools like Elium can help drive internal and external innovation:

  • Centralise insights, trends and market knowledge in one single source of truth. Any form of innovation starts and is nurtured by factual knowledge of what the market wants. More often than not, such data is scattered, unavailable and unstructured. Having in place a central place for all such insights can help teams find and act on insight with ease. 
 
  • Help your team to improve products or services incrementally. Knowledge sharing platforms come equipped with predefined templates like the ‘after-action reviews’, which can be used to capture key learnings about specific projects or initiatives. Once captured, operational teams can use this collective knowledge to make things better.
 
  • Make collective intelligence a reality. Your team is your company’s best asset. Much of their ideas and insights, if not immediately implemented into a project, product or service, go to waste. On the contrary, with a central knowledge-sharing platform teams can easily share their ideas using the rich editor (text, images, videos, drawings, tables). And they can do it while in front of their PC, or on the field, with the help of the mobile app. 
 
  • Offer each innovation project a space of reflection. If your company is attempting a few different types of innovation projects, Elium helps you to keep these strategies distinct. Documenting each initiative in a dedicated space helps teams to know where the project is standing, enhance clarity and focus.  
 
  • Boost your architectural innovation efforts with easy ways to share findings, reports, and any other important knowledge. This way, when someone wants to create something new, they’re able to rely on details of previous successes to find the way. 

 

There is a clear connection between knowledge sharing and innovation 

What are the results you can expect if you start your knowledge sharing journey? Let’s run through a few quick examples of key outcomes: 

  • Improved idea generation process – companies that facilitate knowledge sharing create the context for teams to produce innovative ideas better.
 
  • Direct impact on innovation capability and business metrics – Both explicit and tacit knowledge sharing can positively impact innovation speed, financial performance, innovation quality and operational efficiency. 
 

 

What is next for you and your organisation?

As shown, there is an undeniably strong correlation between effective knowledge sharing between enthusiastic team members and improved innovation efforts. 

If you want to start your knowledge sharing journey and boost innovation capabilities in your company, Elium could be right for you. Let’s get in touch over a quick call and discuss how you can unlock knowledge sharing and innovation inside your organisation.

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