Originally published on December 12, 2016

13th in a series of 50 Knowledge Management Components (Slide 21 in KM 102)

Creation: inventing and innovating new concepts, approaches, methods, techniques, products, services, and ideas which can be used for the benefit of people and organizations

Creating new products and services, coming up with new ideas to try out, and developing innovative methods and processes can help transform an organization, industry, or a nation. Generating new sources of customer demand, stimulating personal and organizational growth, and rethinking the existing rules of the road can help an organization develop, thrive, and endure. Failure to do so may lead to stagnation, decay, or death.

Knowledge management can help trigger the imagination by providing a continually replenished source of ideas and experiences. People help bring out the best ideas in each other through their interaction as a part of networks. Publishing white papers stimulates creative thinking. Analyzing collected knowledge reveals patterns and opportunities for new developments.

Many organizations would like to be known for their innovations, but it is not always easy to turn this aspiration into reality. Connecting creative people through communities, discovering patterns through analysis, and establishing processes for creating new knowledge can help stimulate innovation.


An example of knowledge creation is a patent disclosure process. When an idea for a new invention is shared with others within an organization, it can lead to helpful suggestions for improvements, colleagues who can act as a sounding board for testing assumptions, and referrals to others doing similar work.

Another example is a process for turning practical experience into new standard methods. Provide a process for practitioners who discover improved ways of doing things to convert their insights into new methodologies, which will result in new knowledge being provided to others.

Even something as simple as regularly inviting innovators to present their latest ideas and inventions during community events can become a process of creation. As part of such presentations, build in time for the community members to brainstorm about ways to apply the concepts. Suggest that good ideas be pursued, and follow up on them during future events.

Along similar lines, providing an easy process for white papers to be submitted, reviewed, and published can facilitate knowledge creation. Provide a way to subscribe to new publications in areas of interest, connect with the authors, and collaborate on further enhancements of published ideas.

From Knowledge Creation

Formation of new ideas through interactions between explicit and tacit knowledge in individual human minds. As defined by Ikujiro Nonaka, it consists of socialization (tacit to tacit), externalization (tacit to explicit), combination (explicit to explicit), and internalization (explicit to tacit).

From Invention

An invention is a new scientific or technical idea, and the means of its embodiment or accomplishment. To be patentable, an invention must be novel, have utility, and be non-obvious. To be called an invention, an idea only needs to be proven as workable. But to be called an innovation, it must also be replicable at an economical cost, and must satisfy a specific need. That’s why only a few inventions lead to innovations because not all of them are economically feasible.

From Innovation

Innovation is the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay. To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need. Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products. In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers.

From Practical ideas for innovation, here are ten ways to stimulate innovation.

  1. Ask communities of practice, both internal and external, for ideas.

Creation process for stimulating innovation and facilitating invention

Creating new knowledge is an important goal for most organizations, but it is difficult to enable. By using the other modes of knowledge flow — collection, connection, boundary spanning, and discovery — and adding explicit processes to use these flows to create knowledge, innovation can be stimulated. Creative ideas can be developed into useful new products, services, and ways of getting work done.

Let’s look at an example. In a consulting firm, information about customer projects is captured in a repository (collection). Communities for each type of consulting service are active (connection), and include consultants, partners, contractors, and sales people from all regions of the world (boundary spanning). Details on the win rate, delivery time, and profitability of each service offering are available in a data warehouse (discovery). Competitive and industry trends are available in a corporate library (discovery).

The leadership team has been asked to increase the gross profit margin of the consulting business. They take the following steps:

  1. Search the project repository to see which customers are doing the most repeat business. Survey those customers about their upcoming needs.

By institutionalizing the process used in this case, a knowledge creation process can be reused for future innovation. It is not simple or intuitive to create new knowledge, but it is worth perfecting because the potential benefits are significant.


  1. Posts about Innovation

Also see the list of books about innovation at the end of Practical ideas for innovation and look under Social Software Products and Social Media Products for Idea management and open innovation in Social Software and Social Media.

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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