Unlocking Knowledge to Enable Innovation
University of Stellenbosch Business School, Executive Development (USB-ED), in partnership with Global Natives, recently held a ‘Mauritius Knowledge Sharing’ event attended by 26 local business leaders. The event was hosted by Dr Shawn Cunningham, a process consultant and faculty member of USB-ED, who works with leadership teams to help them improve the performance and agility of their organisations.
The workshop focused on how leaders can enable a culture of innovation by harnessing tacit knowledge. Where explicit knowledge can be easily identified, explained, copied, and shared between organisations and societies, tacit knowledge is much more difficult to extract and ‘formalise’. It is the knowledge we gain, and retain, as part of our learning, work and life experience and the different tasks that we perform.
Business leaders were encouraged to recognise the value of this tacit knowledge and employ ways to embrace this knowledge. Often, organisations don’t see the value in creating opportunities for their teams to share experiences and reflect on the things they do. Creativity and knowledge sharing exercises are seen as secondary to the actual work that needs to be done. In effect we are robbing ourselves of the vast resources locked up in our employees…
Leaders who create a ‘safe’ environment, enable people to feel free, not only to express their frustrations, but also to share their ideas and use their imaginations. In an atmosphere of trust, leaders can use many tools to draw on the experience, ideas and creativity of their teams. A culture of innovation, in other words, is one where people are encouraged to think and reflect, to experiment and develop, and to draw on the expertise of others in order to problem solve, is one that will bring ideas and insights to light.
So, whether we are looking to innovate at the level of our products, processes or our business model, creativity and knowledge are key. Learning how to encourage the sharing of this knowledge and generating ideas will help us to create a culture of innovation, which in today’s world is vital if we want to remain productive, competitive and stay in the game.
“It was great to be with so many business leaders and to feel challenged in the way that we perceive innovation and build a culture of innovation in the workplace.”
Managing Director of a local consultancy company