The Five Cs of KM: Create Part 4—Actions and Example

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

June 15, 2023

In Part 3 of this series, I discussed analysis. This fourth and final part covers actions to take to create knowledge and stimulate innovation, and provides an example of knowledge creation.


Here are ten ways to create new knowledge:

  1. Write articles, blog posts, and books. The process of expressing your thoughts in writing makes them explicit and adds to the collective body of knowledge.
  2. Share insights by posting in communities, ESNs, and social media. The knowledge that you share will be expanded by the replies you receive.
  3. Converse with others in communities, calls, and in-person meetings. Knowledge is socially constructed, and in the course of a conversation, new thinking is revealed.
  4. Brainstorm using proven practices for effective brainstorming sessions. This generates new solutions by removing inhibitions, thus allowing people to think more freely as they spontaneously suggest multiple new ideas.
  5. Solve problems and document the solutions. New knowledge is thus captured and can be reused.
  6. Respond to needs by trying new approaches. Some will be effective, and some will not, but in either case, new knowledge is gained.
  7. Enhance existing processes, products, or services by improving, expanding, or extending them. This is innovation.
  8. Imagine what might be possible and develop new processes, products, and services. This is invention
  9. Ask questions and ponder the answers. Being curious and inquisitive leads to new knowledge.
  10. Regularly devote time to thinking, reflecting, and sensemaking. This can be time spent lying in bed, standing in the shower, soaking in the tub, taking a walk, or just sitting still without distractions.

Here are ten ways to stimulate innovation:

  1. Ask communities of practice, both internal and external, for ideas. Challenge members to collaborate to improve existing processes and tools.
  2. Follow good examples from other organizations, such as the Netflix prize, P&G Connect & Develop, IBM InnovationJam, and Wazoku (formerly InnoCentive).
  3. Conduct experiments to test new methods. Review the results and adopt the ones that are most effective.
  4. Ask for suggested improvements, use rapid prototyping to try them out, and then iterate and improve. Avoid overanalyzing, planning endlessly, and waiting for consensus. Risk failure and encourage safe-fail, rather than fail-safe. Quickly learn from failure and move on. Implement new approaches quickly, which will generate more new ideas.
  5. Enable innovation by supporting integration of diverse tools. Use APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), RSS feeds, search, and web parts to integrate tools. Encourage skunkworks projects to use these techniques to create new features that build on and connect with existing platforms.
  6. Encourage the formation of book clubs, discussion groups, and brainstorming sessions to get people thinking about new and better ways of doing things. Take the best ideas and implement them.
  7. Hold regular innovation challenges, tournaments, and jams. Follow through to implement as many good ideas as possible and inform participants about outcomes.
  8. Ask people to use collaboration tools such as Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) to discuss ideas for improvements, new approaches, and breakthroughs. These tools can be inside, outside, or across organizations.
  9. Invite people outside your organization to speak on calls, present at meetings, and participate in workshops. Adapt their methods for use in your organization.
  10. Set up prediction markets to use the wisdom of crowds to choose between alternatives.


In a library, information about past user surveys is captured in a repository. Communities for each function are active, and include librarians, other information specialists, IT staff, and users. Details on assets, usage, and research requests are available in a data warehouse.

The leadership of the library has been asked to increase end user satisfaction, identify knowledge gaps, and target information assets and departmental processes to organizational needs. They take the following steps:

Search the user survey repository to see which users were the most outspoken about their dissatisfaction. Interview those users about their needs and concerns.

Ask the communities for each function to offer their suggestions for improving user satisfaction. Select the best ones for implementation.

Analyze the information in the data warehouse to see which assets are the most and least popular. Procure more assets like the most popular and increase promotion of these assets. 

Review research requests. Streamline access to the most relevant assets and procure more assets that meet identified needs.

Combining all these inputs, make decisions on improvements to the library’s assets and processes.

By institutionalizing the workflow used in this case, a knowledge creation process can be reused for future innovation. It is not simple or intuitive to create new knowledge, but it is worth perfecting because the potential benefits are significant.

This concludes the final series on The Five Cs of KM. Please register for next week’s webinar on the fifth C: Create, where I will present on the topics covered in this series.

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

To learn more, please join us for “The Five Cs of Knowledge Management Part 5: Create”, the final webinar in this series presented by Stan Garfield on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 at 11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern. (Can’t make it? Register anyway and we’ll send you a link to the recording afterwards). Register now or call 604-278-6717

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