Most companies struggle to find ways to embed innovation into their business. This talk shares the journey of establishing a grassroots movement—a journey fueled by innovation, knowledge sharing, and learnings, and the critical success factors discovered along the way.
Wendy Woodson, Director, Booz Allen Hamilton
Kim Bullock, #innovation Catalyst, ExxonMobil
[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2017 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]
- How They Approach Innovation. There are multiple kinds of innovation — not just transformational, game-changing innovation. Instead, they use the following model [see Managing Your Innovation Portfolio]
- Transformational Innovation
- Adjacent Innovation — taking what you do well and moving into a new market
- Core Innovation — improving your bread and butter functions — this area is ripe for smart KM
- Brutal Truths:
- Culture & Behaviors. These beliefs and behaviors are so deeply ingrained in the organization that they can be extremely difficult to identify and excavate, much less reform.
- Politician & Magician. We are always selling (politician), we’re always performing (magician).
- Art not Science. There is not a single best approach to innovation. The key is to find business problems worth solving and then working with the affected group to improve their situation. The speakers spoke about a project they did to reduce the burden of exception reporting from 70% of the avaialble time to 30% of available time. This translated into a significant improvement in the quality of life.
- Warrior. We have to be very thick-skinned and ready to fight for attention, for support, for successful projects. KM often is considered a “nice to have” rather than a “need to have.”
- Opportunity. For all of the brutal truths, the speakers believe that there is tremendous opportunity in KM for rewarding work.
- Critical Success Factors.
- External Network. Just as you create your internal network within your organization, intentionally create an external network that can be the source help, information, and commiseration.
- Brutal Truths. Be honest about the Brutal Truths discussed above. And be very forthright about your projects and progress. And be very honest with your leadership. They need to know.
- The Middle Matters. We usually tend to start by looking for support from senior champions or at the grassroots level. However, the middle managers are influencers who often are ignored. The speakers focused on the middle managers — they were explicit about exactly what they expected in terms of influencing up and influencing down.
- Attention, Attraction, Adoption.
- Attention — use standard marketing tactics to get their attention
- Attraction — explain what you are offering and how you can help
- Adoption — get down to brass tacks, find an issue you can work on with the business, get it done, and then repeat.
- Tell the Story. Rather than just insisting that KM is good, collect and share the success stories. Capture them in an article, record videos. Both of these are more contagious that assertions by KM.