Knowledge Management, Creativity, and Innovation: Part 2

Talking about design and balance and creativity and knowledge management makes me happy, joyful even. Bring on the joy.

In Part 1 I talked about how important TIME is knowledge creation and reuse, creativity practices that allow us to take knowledge and either transform or apply it in order to create something new. What does it mean to design time for this into our activities?


Design thinking is characterized by being purposive; human centered; a balance of analytical and creative; uses abductive reasoning, i.e. inference from best available explanation; and iterative, it uses prototyping and play testing to achieve success.

Here’s how these principles are applied in knowledge management:

Purposive: we look at the organization’s strategy, goals, and objectives and assess how knowledge management best supports those activities. The knowledge management strategy outlines how the organization’s goals and objectives are furthered through the application of knowledge management activities.

Human centered: the best knowledge management implementations consider the people of the organization, e.g. how they work, what makes their work-lives easier, what the culture of the organization is like and works with those requirements to make the organization more efficient and effective in its knowledge processes and activities.

A balance of analytical and creative: KM should be a balance of analytical and creative. It should capture knowledge and make it reusable, but it also needs to leave space, ba, to allow for knowledge creation. This space can look like lots of different things, e.g. giving employees 10% of their time for projects they want to work on/explore, foosball tables, basketball courts, gyms, art/creativity space, and communities of interest; activities that encourage different connections to be made.

Abductive reasoning: this sums up the belief in KM in general. It can be very difficult to prove a causal link between improved knowledge activities and improved organizational performance, metrics and ROI continue to be a significant hurdle for many organizations. However, anyone who has experience with implementing knowledge management successfully knows that efficiency and effectiveness in an organization are improved through the use of knowledge management activities.

Iterative: successful KM starts small and grows. It starts with an over-all strategy and plan, but then moves to pilots, which bring in small parts of the organization, so that lessons can be learned and adjustments made as the people, process, and supporting technology are implemented across the organization.

Make sense?

Now here’s another piece: We create knowledge through right-brain activities, which is then managed through knowledge management activities. Knowledge management activities can also help us put the pieces together in a different way (with new and existing knowledge) to create a new picture. We do this through:

  1. Leaving space for creativity and discovery and “rearranging the pieces” (right brain);
  2. Organizing and sharing our learnings so that they can be reused by the next person/team/group (left brain).

Have your worlds collided?

Do you see how this collision of the worlds of creativity, innovation, and knowledge management work together?

Do you see why I care and am positively joyful about this collision of worlds to make connections, meet new people, learn new things and share what I know with others?

Do you care?

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6 Responses to Knowledge Management, Creativity, and Innovation: Part 2

  1. David Hobbie says:

    I like how you’re bringing an emotional / passionate perspective to knowledge management activities. It can be a challenge to get around the sense that KM is too “meta,” not grounded in personal and business needs, and simply not relevant most of the time.

    Bringing a sense of joy, creativety, and fun to KM activities is one way to do that. I’m reminded of activities as simple as a fun “treasure hunt” (with prizes) set up by a wiki champion on a litigation matter team, or neon blue “Ask me about the iNet” T-shirts the KM & web teams here wore on launch of a previous version of an intranet.

  2. sbarnes says:

    Thanks, David!

    Yes, I think there is a tendency to be very serious about KM, and demand metrics and ROI, which as an accountant I totally understand, but there are all kinds of things that happen, connections that are made, innovations that are discovered, when the reigns are loosened up a bit and we have some fun with it. Bringing in some balance and space to think and reflect allows the serendipity to happen, and anything is possible then!

  3. I really enjoyed this insight Stephanie, in particular your point about a human centred KM process; it seems to suggest to me that, by considering what the culture of an organisation is like, areas can be identified where adjustments can be made in order to gradually implement and embed KM within that culture. I also enjoyed reading the Knoco May newsletter which discusses this idea of “Making KM part of the day job”. Many thanks!

    • Thanks, Fiona, glad you liked it and glad you liked the Knoco newsletter from May (, for any of you who might like to see what Fiona is referring to).

      I think recognizing the culture of the organization is key to KM’s success. Understanding the current cultural state and working from there rather than making blanket pronouncements about, “now we are a knowledge sharing organization” like a magic wand is being waved and expecting everyone to fall into line is a recipe for disaster.

  4. Tom Sullivan says:

    Fiona / Stephanie,
    I think discussions about org culture can be tough, but I like the direction you have taken with it. After all, an organization’s culture is a reflection of the actions and activities of its people. Forcing change “from the top” is a mixed bag at best. Convinving the staff through engagement, demonstration, and allowing the “product” (KM) to sell itself is, I think the best recipe for success. In other words, it may be that the best indication of a successful cultural change is as a lagging indicator of staff behaviors.

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