Open Innovation, KnowledgePosted: January 29, 2010
An interesting article at the McKinsey Quarterly … About the idea of using knowledge brokering to improve business processes. The idea is quite interesting. That of applying the approach of open source to innovation and process improvement. What they are saying is that an organization could benefit by looking at people outside the organization with the right kind of expertise to help them bring about improvements in processes, in addition to procuts.
While this by itself seems a thought which quite a few folks have written about, there is another aspect that the article talks about, which got me to write this. The idea here is that managers need to understand that they need to look not just within their industry, but maybe at other industries too to find solutions to problems they are trying to solve. This is something i have been thinking about for some time now, and take an example from folk-lore to illustrate this. What i am talking about is that it is quite difficult to actually predict where you may find an idea which may help you solve a problem. At times this may actually come from a source which is quite unexpected, and seemingly totally unrelated to the problem.
An example for this comes from the story of Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya. During the early days, when they were exiled, one day, Chanakya was sitting and watching a little child eating. The child burnt his hand trying to eat some hot rice. At this, his mother advised him that he should eat rice at the edges which is cooler than the rice in the middle, and slowly work his way towards the centre. And this is where Chanakya developed the military strategy which was to later build the Maurya empire, the idea that they should slowly nibble away at borders and work their way towards the capital of the kingdom.
As you can see, the two are quite unrelated, and this is the point i am trying to make. It is not really clear where one might get inspiration from, where the eureka moment might come from. So it is important as managers to keep an open mind, and look at places which one wouldnt usually look at, you never know you might find a gem somewhere.