By Steve Trautman February 12, 2016

Cultivating Innovation - Transferring Knowledge from R&D to Production

Posted by Steve Trautman on Feb 12, 2016 12:04:35 PM

lightbulb_in_hands.jpegIn this series, I’ve been writing about how to use knowledge transfer to introduce innovation, how to learn to be more innovative, and how to learn to pitch innovative ideas. Sometimes, your job includes getting other people to execute your innovative idea. This is true for everyone working in R&D but can be true for many roles in business as well. First you present your idea and have it accepted, then you have to prepare your idea to be executed by somebody else. Knowledge transfer can help there, too.

If you need to be good at handing off your ideas, prototypes, research, and data and prepare others to scale/commercialize them, that could be a skill in your Skill Development Plan: “Prepare your idea to be executed by somebody else.”

Take the concept of a bakery. You’ve invented a new pastry. You can do it in your local kitchen and it tastes really good. Now, you have to bake it 1,000 times an hour in four bakeries in four parts of the world. How do you present your idea for execution by somebody else at a grand scale?

The scaling concept holds true in a different way with a clothing manufacturing client of ours. They introduced a new kind of fabric that looked like chicken wire, albeit really expensive and fancy chicken wire. It was an innovative new type of mesh. It would first show up in shoes. Then, it would also show up on bags, and it would show up in panels of jackets. If you decide that you’re going to bring a new type of material to the shoe market, how do you prepare and situate it so that it can be executed by other designers and implemented across a whole line? If preparing one of your ideas for scale is a goal, how can you use knowledge transfer to learn how to do it from those in your organization who do it best? As we discussed in a previous post, just being creative doesn’t mean anything if you can’t present your ideas in such a way that you can ensure they’ll get implemented.

If the skill you’re working to develop is “Prepare your idea for execution by somebody else” then which test questions would help ensure you learn that concept in depth?

Test Question #3,  The top 3 things that often go wrong when someone is learning this skill?

Surely there are going to be some war stories about overstepping a line or getting the timing wrong. These would provide invaluable guidance.

Test Question #6, The potential cost of making a mistake while executing this task/skill?

Perhaps you’re too persuasive in presenting your idea and the system doesn’t catch you before you cause a costly mistake that has already spread globally. Better that you should know these pitfalls in advance.

Test Question #7, Who is/should be involved/affected/consulted and why?

Every idea needs to go through “channels” in some way. This could be practical or political or both. It is critical to know the people part of scaling your idea before you head in the wrong direction.

Test Question #14, What standards exist and how rigorously they are applied?

Scaling an idea usually involves some bureaucracy and while that sounds like a bad thing and even something to avoid, there is usually some foundation that can’t be ignored. Picking up the unwritten rules on this topic would be very helpful.

Test Question #18, What to look for, listen for, feel or smell?  

Ideas can take on a life of their own and you should be watching what happens to yours to ensure they’re spreading in an appropriate way.

Summary: Each of these questions will spark a discussion with the expert you’re learning from and give you rich context for guiding your ideas to scale. You’ll uncover best practices and potholes alike.

Topics: Skill Development Plan (SDP), 20 Test Questions, knowledge transfer blog, knowledge transfer, best practices

Steve Trautman

Steve Trautman

Steve Trautman is corporate America’s leading talent risk management and knowledge transfer expert. With two decades of application inside blue chips and Fortune 1000s, his pioneering work in the field of talent risk management and related knowledge transfer tools are now the nationally-recognized gold standard. He is known for a high energy style that combines humor, street smarts, and board room wisdom.

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