It has been argued for some time that the US and Europe are no longer industrial oriented economies and are rather working through the challenges of transforming into knowledge economies. Marquardt & Berger (2000) state that “in the knowledge economy, individuals at every level and in all kinds of companies will be challenged to develop new knowledge, to take responsibility for their new ideas, and to pursue them as far as they can go” (pg. 12). This is not a new phenomenon; it seems Leonardo DaVinci and Albert Einstein understood this as they were both well known for their voracious appetite for information. Thus, they show us, through their example, that humans have always been working and living in a knowledge environment. In other words, it is the idea or concept that generates products and thus economies, everything else that comes after, while obviously important, is secondary to idea generation. Yes, I said it; Idea generation is more important than implementation. No one every implemented the absence of an idea.
Creative imaginings and idea generation is where inspiration begins and as often noted where “seeing something different” becomes critical to the success of an organization or nation. One of the things that organizational members must interpret differently is information itself. Purser & Kumar (1994) suggest that leaders should encourage employees to “treat information as a resource to action rather than for the control of action” (pg .37). This approach creates an environment where promising ideas are supported in their early stages of development, producing a “swarming” effect of resources around potential change in a way that might deal effectively with organizational turbulence (Rickards & Moger, 2006). Even this is not enough as organizations often limit their search and use of information to only a few well known sources, often internal to the organization itself. Required instead is breadth; accessing a greater number of knowledge sources thus improving the probability of obtaining knowledge that will lead to a valuable outcome (Leiponen & Helfat, 2010).
Leiponen, A., & Helfat, C. E. (2010). Innovation objectives, knowledge sources, and the benefits of breadth. Strategic Management Journal, 31(2), 224-236.
Marquardt, M. J., & Berger, N. O. (2000). Global leaders for the 21st century. Albany: University of New York Press.
Purser, R. E., & Kumar, N. (1994). The reported advantage: what journalists say chief executives do to foster innovation in their firms. Creativity and Innovation Management, 3(1), 33-42.
Rickards, T., & Moger, S. (2006). Creative leaders: a decade of contributions from Creativity and Innovation Management Journal. Creativity and Innovation Management, 15(1), 4-18.