The New Competitive Landscape - Role of Knowledge, Learning and Innovation in Organizations

Introduction: Knowledge is Power

Knowledge is power. This saying more than anything else captures the importance of knowledge in the contemporary digital economy and the knowledge economy. It is no longer enough to be the most strongest when the lubricant and catalyst of success is knowledge. This is the reason why organizations emphasize the fact that they need to build learning organizations where knowledge is shared and produced for mutual benefit. The reason for mentioning sharing of knowledge is that since knowledge is at a premium, many organizations find it difficult to make the employees who are the most knowledgeable to partake of their insights.

Innovation

Closely tied to knowledge is the role of innovation in building a learning organization. As recent years have shown how once well established companies have fallen by the wayside to be replaced with those who are the most innovative, it is clear that unless an organization creates a culture of innovation and incubates and ideates the ideas, and it cannot hope to succeed in the present economy. Indeed, as the success of Apple, Google, and Facebook shows, organizations that promote innovation and reward employees with breakthrough ideas are the ones that are the most capable of thriving now.

Learning

We have discussed knowledge and innovation. As mentioned briefly earlier, for organizations that strive to be industry leaders, it is imperative that they create an environment that encourages learning and free flow of ideas, information, and knowledge. Indeed, these terms are important as data is distinct from information which in turn is different from knowledge. Data is the basic unit here and only when organizations and individuals transform it into information would it be of any use. Similarly, information must be transmitted, enhanced, and enriched by collaboration which would then make it knowledge. For all this to happen, there must be a working environment that supports such learning and hence, learning organizations are those that harness the power of ideas, transform them into innovations, produce inventions, and share the results throughout the organization so that others can learn and improve on their skills.

Silo Approaches do not Work

Apart from this, the present competitive landscape is such that organizations must leverage knowledge as a source of sustainable competitive advantage. In earlier decades, the Research and Development Department or the R&D Function used to take care of knowledge and idea generation .in the present competitive landscape, such silo based approaches do not work as knowledge is too valuable to be left to one department or function. Of course, we are not downplaying the importance of a dedicated R&D unit. Rather our point here is that to succeed in the present times, there must be a symbiotic exchange of information and knowledge across the organization irrespective of who is generating it or who is taking the effort to leverage it.

Conclusion: The Three Building Blocks

Finally, the three elements of knowledge, innovation, and learning together should be interwoven into the organizational DNA so that it permeates through the organization and actualizes a deep and meaningful exchange of ideas, innovations, and inventions. To conclude this article, think of how many times a day do you use Google to search for information. The fact that most of us cannot visualize a day without Google shows the power of knowledge in the contemporary landscape and indicates the extent to which knowledge has become the new currency of power.


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