Participant Representation

Participant Representation

Participant Representation

The 30 organizations that sponsored this study represent both the public and private sector and a variety of industries. Almost one-third of participants were government, 21 percent were from the manufacturing industry, and 12 percent were from the health care and pharmaceutical industries. Other industries represented by the sponsors include transportation, telecommunications, insurance, chemical/ petroleum, and financial services.

Fifty-seven percent of the study partners and 54 percent of the study sponsors that completed the detailed questionnaire reported data from an enterprise perspective. The remaining organizations reported data from a business unit or departmental perspective.

  • The comments of study sponsors about their vision of KM-enabled innovation enriched APQC’s understanding of what issues are most pressing to organizations. When asked what best practices using KM to support innovation would look like, study sponsors gave a variety of answers.

  • “Best practices in using KM to drive innovation would show a relatively seamless process, where best practices and lessons learned are shared across the organization and where experts and expertise are known.”

  • “Cross-disciplinary teams dedicated to a task or problem would have sufficient resources and time to think out solutions in new and insightful ways. The best practice would identify mechanisms for the establishment and functioning of these teams.”

  • “The knowledge capture and reuse process is integrated with the research process. Part of this is ‘implementing’ a sharing culture across the organization.”

  • “Our goal is to create an organization that gets increasingly better at reducing the ‘cycle time of decisions’ from initial recognition/submission of an innovative idea to full implementation of that idea.”

  • “When an individual has an innovative idea, he or she knows where and how to record it, and the systems are in place to nurture the idea, help it progress through evaluation and development, and bring it to market, using the best practices at each stage, with vigorous collaboration, too.”

  • “A cross-functional, highly collaborative global team would involve customers to develop new solutions to customers’ problems, leverage all available explicit internal and external knowledge, codify new tacit knowledge, [and] use appropriate technical tools.”

With these ambitious ideal scenarios in mind, APQC and the study sponsors selected five best-practice partners to visit from a number of companies provided as candidates by APQC. The site visit partners selected were 3M, Boeing and its Rocketdyne Division, NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and the World Bank.

All of the study partners selected for site visits had certain characteristics in common: they are outstanding innovators, usually working with technical and complex information, and they have a bevy of experts working in a variety of interdependent disciplines who must collaborate and share knowledge for innovation to occur. These organizations have a strong emphasis on knowledge initiatives that cross boundaries, and most are enabling multifunctional teams to access and use relevant information and knowledge. And all partners could articulate the role of knowledge in innovation and how they were managing it.

The partners differed in the maturity and breadth of their formal KM efforts, their missions—some were for profit and others were not for profit—and the pressures to be more disciplined in their efforts to manage knowledge. These factors led to different approaches to collaborate and opposing philosophies about rewards among the partners. Some of the partners selected were measuring their KM efforts and attempt to link it to outcomes; others only measure innovation.

Both the partners’ commonalities and their diversity contributed to the study team’s ability to extract major patterns and a variety of successful approaches that will be elaborated in the remainder of this report.