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Ducks in a Row: Sharing Information Yields Innovation

by Miki Saxon

Think about all the information that comes your way, especially if you are an executive.

It’s usually shared at peer level and (maybe) one or two levels down.

But full sharing of that information should be embedded deeply in your company’s culture.

In fact, when information, particularly competitive and market intelligence, is widely disseminated throughout the organization it juices innovation and boosts productivity.


Because increasing the number of people with access to the information increases the odds for breakthrough thinking and reduces the risk of wheel-spinning.

  • An article on a competitor’s product can spark an engineer’s original design idea;
  • gossip about changing industry dynamics can prevent a stumble in marketing;
  • an investment report on a new service offering can suggest an innovative sales approach to a desirable customer.

Highly visible industry developments circulate swiftly and prompt immediate strategy meetings and fast responses, but the rest of the information often languishes; instead, it needs to be easily accessible by everyone.

Think about it, everybody in your company picks up valuable industry intelligence along with potentially valuable gossip.

  • CEOs receive strategy reports by investment firms, management consulting companies, along with high level information and gossip from the Board.
  • Managers receive reports from hired industry experts and publications.
  • Marcom and others interact with the media.
  • Salespeople gain information from customers.
  • Engineers and others observe competitive equipment at trade shows.
  • Admin and other support people hear and overhear stuff, often because they are ignored by those at higher levels.

People talk—at tradeshows, networking events, industry conferences and seminars, as well as at social events, bars, restaurants, etc. Most people spend at least part of that time talking about business-related topics.

Unfortunately, some managers derive their power through information control.

Smart managers make sure that the information is shared, up, down, and horizontally, by using internal blogs, intranets, wikis, etc. Further, they actively work to encourage everybody to read and discuss it.

Since the goal is to encourage everybody to share everything, no matter the source, all posts should include attribution; a public thank you to the person who took the time to share it.

Whether formal (reports, white papers, news) or informal (conversations, hearsay, gossip) the content needs to be accurately assessed and valued.

There is no way to predict what bit of knowledge will spark the creative process, so be sure that your people have full access everything available in an easily searchable format.

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zedbee/103147140/

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