Creation Spaces

Having read an interesting article in the Harward Business Review, I will write here about the possibilities to enhance the innovativeness of your company. And I will particularly recommend further reading from Hagel, Brown and Davison, who work about the topic Creation Spaces.

Creation Spaces are powerfull means to improve the innovation management.

Creation of Creation Spaces

The flexible management of knowledge was one of the most important reasons for the growth of the human species, and is thus an old and important topic. Both, Knowledge Management and Creation Spaces are means to manage the knowledge-creation in modern companies.

A Better Way to Manage Knowledge

In particular the modern Creation Spaces are comparable to the approach of the 1990, which was called Knowledge Management. However both concepts differ significantly from each other. In their article → A Better Way to Manage Knowledge, Hagel, Brown and Davison write about these differences.

The most significant difference is that Knowledge Management was oriented towards the past knowledge. Creation Spaces, on the other hand, are oriented towards the creation of future knowledge.

„…most knowledge managers lost sight of the fact that the real value is in creating new knowledge, rather than simply „managing“ existing knowledge….

Why? Because these creation spaces, heavily relying on shared network platforms, provide tools and forums for knowledge creation while at the same time capturing the discussion, analysis, and actions in ways that make it easier to share across a broader range of participants.“

Due to these differences both approaches differ in terms of systems and processes, and they differ in terms of persons involved.

While the first concept was internally looking, and targetting the employees, the latter concept includes external participants from partners and customers as well:

„… Knowledge management traditionally has focused on capturing knowledge that already exists within the firm — its systems rarely extend beyond the boundaries of the enterprise. Creation spaces instead focus on mobilizing and focusing participants across all institutional boundaries. Sure, there are lots of smart people within your enterprise, but imagine the power of connecting with and engaging a more diverse collection of smart people beyond your enterprise. That is another source of the increasing returns in creation spaces — participation is not limited by the boundaries of the enterprise.“

Four Ways to Spur Innovation at Your Company

In their article → Four Ways to Spur Innovation at Your Company, Hagel, Brown and Davison write about the SAP Developer Network, which is an early example of a functioning Creation Space.

It achieves the following benefits:

  • It brings together internal and external experts, and
  • It helped SAP to educate customers and partners about one of its complex products.

This Creation Space was founded several years ago. In that times it was important to find methods to support customers and partners with a technology (SAP NetWeaver), which was very complex.

The earlier SAP Developer Network consisted of forums, communities, and related knowledge sources. It was designed as a means to bring together employees, partners and customers in an online platform, to have them discuss topics of interest.

The present Developer Network adds a lot of expert knowledge, such as articles and blogs from experts.

„The result was the SAP Developer Network (SDN), creation space of forums, wikis, videos, and blogs targeting not just SAP customers but the 3rd parties whose participation would prove crucial to the platform’s success. The SDN community grew quickly and powerfully and, as it did, SAP was able to establish NetWeaver with its customers.

What’s instructive about this story is how Shai Agassi and his team reached across SAP’s corporate boundaries (after first convincing SAP’s internal groups to create one rather than many communities) to knit together a broad network of developers, consultants, users, pundits, and experts. Few of them were on the SAP payroll, but nearly all were passionate about software.“

In this article the authors describe as well the steps towards such as Creation Space. These are the following:

  1. Re-frame the institutional challenge and opportunity.
  2. Embrace new forms of information technology.
  3. Identify and mobilize passionate individuals.
  4. Re-orient institutional activities.

In summary, Creation Spaces offer technical possibilities that allow employees, customers, and partners to meet online to solve technical problems. To put such a space in place, you need to redefine your company’s approach, and then you need to mobilize individuals internally and externally, to participate.

The benefit of such an approach is quite high, in particular if you think about complex products that require much knowlegde.

Three Elements You Need for Successful Creation Spaces

Now looking closer to the creation of Creation Spaces. In their article → Three Elements You Need for Successful Creation Spaces Hagel, Brown and Davison write about the process to create creation spaces.

The basic assumption is that the collaboration of people needs to be managed. Functioning projects in crowdsourcing, such as Wikipedia, almost never emerge without supervision, and management.

To create successful collaboration spaces, you need participation, the interaction among the participands, and you need to implement support, which offers a framework. All this needs to be managed as well.

But how do collaboration curves come into being in the first place? Can they be intentionally created? In our experience the answer is yes–but you can’t simply amass a whole bunch of participants just anywhere and expect one to arise…..

This balancing act combines three essential elements to set in motion the increasing returns dynamics that makes creation spaces successful: participants, interactions, and environments.“

Further Informationen

In the following articles can you find additional information about the topic „innovation“:

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