“The process in which knowledge is acquired, adopted and shared with the aim to create new knowledge (which improves products/services) is considered the innovation process.” But, you don’t need a formal definition in order to understand that innovation and knowledge are two sides of the same coin. Savvy CMOs and creative teams are well aware of the fact that these assets are key drivers of development and growth in modern enterprises.
Individuals who are both creative and knowledgeable are not easy to find, but managing a handful of them is even less so. Here’s why knowledge management is a necessity for creative teams, and how to make it effective in yours.
Knowledge as a Key Asset
Prolific creative teams are built very carefully, and over a longer period of time. They are most successful when they are diverse and assembled of individuals with different personality traits and skillsets. Such teams thrive on creative differences and good-humoured rivalry.
Though hierarchy works for some and hinders others, structure always plays an important part in teamwork. Creative thinkers should be given the freedom to organize their workflow and communication channels. As long as they are equipped with the means for obtaining and arranging knowledge, they rarely need an external management system.
There’s more than just one type of knowledge, though. Experts in knowledge management and its application in innovation enterprises recognize a number of different categories, all of which are essential for individuals who work together on creative projects.
Formal and documented, explicit knowledge is easy to obtain and share. Since mostly coded, such knowledge requires the use of information technology that’s effective and reliable.
Unlike explicit knowledge, tacit knowledge is developed between creative collaborators over a period of time. Partially, it comes from the expertise and experience of each individual, but it also implies an unspoken and unrecorded know-how of the entire team.
Knowledge about customers, their behaviour, and a competitive landscape that each business is a part of plays an essential role in the innovation process.
Even though they are focused on ideas and their development, creative teams benefit from knowledge about methods and tools needed for production as well.
Taken together, these four types of knowledge are a key resource for innovation. Creative teams need to be provided with a useful streamlining structure that allows them to share and apply whatever information may lead to an advanced and original solutions.
Knowledge Management as a Meta-Resource
Management is a synonym for both organization and structure, which makes knowledge management an indispensable part of innovation enterprises. Though its main task is to share valuable information, it’s also responsible for arranging, recording, and translating different types of knowledge.
Consider brainstorming sessions, for instance. They mostly revolve around tacit knowledge that individuals exchange with other team members, thus contributing to the development of a mutual idea. If unmanaged, this type of knowledge can hardly be recorded.
The main goal of knowledge management is therefore to establish an infrastructure that documents, stores and translates tacit knowledge into practical, explicit data. Once it becomes part of a wider social network, personal knowledge is available to all innovators within a team.
After all, there’s no such thing as personal intellectual property in creative teams. In order to contribute to the overall goal, every individual needs to participate in the creation of organizational knowledge. When properly managed, this process is a foundation of productive knowledge networking that serves as a meta-resource and allows “sharing and distribution of knowledge among employees, teams, groups, where intensive communication not only expands the present knowledge, but also creates new ideas”.
The Role of Knowledge Bases
With all this in mind, we can say that the role of knowledge management in creative teams and innovation is fourfold:
- Collecting and storing explicit, market and technological knowledge.
- Codification and sharing of individual knowledge.
- Fruitful exchange of all four types of knowledge through team-wide collaboration.
- Building innovative culture based on knowledge.
Fortunately, the advancements in informational technologies have made this a lot easier. Together with knowledge management systems, knowledge bases assist your creative teams whether it comes to obtaining and applying organizational knowledge or brainstorming new ideas. The benefits of employing one are inexhaustible and in perfect compliance with the requirements of creative collaboration:
Open dialogue between team members is a number one necessity when it comes to creating new, innovative ideas. Even though brainstorming sessions are crucial, the generation of such ideas is rarely restricted to office space. Creative thinkers should be allowed to think outside the box, which means that organizational knowledge and resources need to be available to them anytime, anywhere. Since cloud-based, knowledge bases are accessible 24/7, from all devices. As such, they can be used whenever the need occurs, be that a joint brainstorming session or an individual spark of creativity.
Even the most innovative of creative teams sometimes need to reach out to other departments and make use of their specialized knowledge. A knowledge base is a central platform that establishes a company-wide social network, thus enabling different teams to collaborate with each other. While organizational knowledge is kept within a single software, the creation of private wikis is possible as well. That way, your team can organize their own knowledge base as a part of a bigger, comprehensive network that collects and secures all information within a company.
However ground-breaking they might be, innovative ideas still need an infrastructure of their own. That’s why creative teams cannot do without effective knowledge management, and why availability and shareability of information supported by a knowledge base are the key to fruitful brainstorming.