The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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Evolving from Knowledge Management to Innovation Networking

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Knowledge management was all the rage a decade ago.  People realized the need to maintain institutional and intellectual capital as employees filtered into an organization, created new knowledge, and then often left the organization leaving little trace of the knowledge they developed and didn’t share effectively.  But knowledge management didn’t really take off as a practice.  More than hard core data building, knowledge management was replaced by increasingly better search capabilities, the decreasing cost of storage and disk space, and the increasing digitization of our work.  All of this led to the capture of knowledge that was more effective than any attempts to archive and categorize knowledge – although there has been some of that as well.

Today, we’ve shifted from making sure we “know what we know” to “knowing who knows what we know.”  Wow, that’s pretty convoluted sentence structuring, but the bottom line being that in the ever increasing pace of innovation, we have to be able to mobilize innovation capabilities at an exponential rate.  Simply having knowledge and creating more of it on a linear scale is meaningless in today’s world – that tactic would put you 50% behind your nearest competitor within a year.  What matters is that you can mobilize the people who are best able to broker knowledge within the organization to increase the rate at which knowledge connections are made.

So again I ask “why does HR care?”  Well aren’t we the people people?  And aren’t we the competency people?  Shouldn’t we be the ones identifying who our best innovation networkers are?  Isn’t the ability to collaborate effectively a skill we should be tracking?  We’re not trying to figure out who are the smartest people in our organizations, although that does impact the ability to innovate.  We are trying to catalog a particular set of skills that allow innovation to happen.

Yes it’s possible that innovation and collaboration networks can be mapped, but the reality is that very few of our organizations are going to be spending the huge time investments it takes to perform this task today.  What we can do is have our managers help us identify who has these competencies and get them recorded into our talent management systems.  Our managers surly have a pretty good grip of who their go to people are, and with these people in the talent systems, it gives management not only an idea of how their innovation network functions, but also gives us another basis upon which our succession plans as based on.

It would also be critical for HR to be looking at some of the key metrics for this population – minimizing the turnover in this population might be the most important turnover statistic you generate, as is probably different from the turnover statistics you’re doing today.  Having an upward trend in terms of headcount for this population over time would also be a very positive indicator that you’re recruiting the right type of people.  In the end, having an innovation and collaboration focus in your HR practice and filtering that through to the functional components to increase recruiting and retention of the “right” people will eventually drive your partnership with the overall business.

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  1. […] the company to deliver its strategic objectives and will include the provision of a full … Evolving from Knowledge Management to Innovation Networking So again I ask “why does HR care?” Well aren’t we the people […]