At the AIChE meeting, Cawas Cooper from Air Products talked about a project that evolved from their Innovation Week, where people were encouraged to come up with new ideas and collaborate with their colleagues to sell the idea to their respective management. Those projects that get management blessing are pursued.
I first read of various forms of Innovation Week / Idea Workshops as a knowledge management technique in Stephen Denning's The Springboard, but the idea has been around for a while. Many organizations hold regular gatherings geared towards knowledge exchange across their wide variety of people. Each does it a different way and with different aims.
My former company had an annual technical community meeting, where researchers from around the company came together. They had the opportunity to present their research in conference-like seminars or in poster sessions that were browsed by all the attendees. The draw for the scientists was the opportunity to meet new people interested in their areas, and to meet people with whom they could collaborate.
Other companies and organizations that have mentioned various forms of this activity include Novartis' Knowledge Marketplace, IBM's Worldjam, Global Development Network's Knowledge Fairs, USAID's Knowledge Fair, and many others that aren't as well publicized.
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