KM is about innovation, not efficiency

Chris McGrath on the ThoughtFarmer blog gives us a Sneak peak at IDEO's take on Knowledge Sharing, including a screen shot of their ThoughtFarmer-powered KM tool.  He's got a great quote from the project manager.

Yesterday I spoke with Gentry Underwood, the project manager for IDEO’s Knowledge Sharing project, about his presentation at Web 2.0. Gentry brought up a key distinction between IDEO’s take on Knowledge Sharing and traditional Knowledge Management: It’s not about being more efficient. It’s about being more innovative.

While I don't know that I have ever thought of knowledge management being about "efficiency," it is easy to see how efficiency seems to be the focus of "traditional" knowledge management projects.  The best KM projects are those that remove knowledge-related problems from the lives of the people affected.  This ends up being many different things, from the "knowing what we know" old school to "knowing what you need" to "knowing each other" ... and on to developing the new - innovation.

I am not surprised with the focus on innovation at IDEO.  I've had people from IDEO talk in my knowledge management class at Northwestern (which I had to give up on my move to Boston), and it has always been clear to me that they aren't about technology for technology's sake.  They gear their work on creating something new for their customers, whether that is a product or a new way to think about business processes.  This may be why it is only now that they have gotten around to doing something along the lines of KM.

* Minor disclosure.  I participated in ThoughtFarmer's entertaining Tubetastic promotional campaign.  I am the "Tube Ombudsman" in the org chart.

1 Comment(s)

Hey Jack, you can check out IDEO's presentation at Web 2.0 Expo New York this Wednesday (Sep 17) at 9:00am ( It promises to be much more exciting than my blog post. :-)

And I don't care what anyone says. I think you make a *great* Tube Ombudsman.

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