Cultivating Absorptive Capacity

The flow of knowledge as our alternative currents
The flow of knowledge as our alternative currents

We need to cultivate Absorptive behaviour and allow it to flow.

We need a system to capture and allow knowledge to flow. For me the adoption model seems to be one worth investigating. If we want to achieve the goal of distributed innovation we need to have in place this possible framework around absorptive capacity to encourage different learning behaviours.. Nesta ( produced a useful report some time back called “Innovation by Adoption” and I feel this has a good framework that support distributed innovation.

The report argues in a place with a strong absorptive capacity three main outputs subsequently result from the flow of external or distributed knowledge: (1) the creation of new innovation; (2) the creation of new knowledge; and (3) that it does lead to new economic and social value.

Innovation by adapting the adoption model within your distributed innovation needs.

If we agree that most innovations happen outside often self-imposed boundaries then we have to extend out all our boundaries and go beyond our present levels of innovation building. Go outside our box to expand it.  We have to open up. We certainly understand that today innovation is not confined with the walls of one particular company. The world ‘absorbs’ more innovation than we can turn into greater value but we need to attempt to capture this and see if and where its value might lie. This is going to be achieved more likely within a distributed approach asking everyone to contribute to innovation ideas and providing them on a consistent basis the likely content and context fit that they need to look for .

We need to continue to push innovation created often locally, back up through the organization so it can potentially turn these insights into  innovation that will find a place in our world that improved on the existing that was something that we contributed too, that can be highly motivating. For this to happen organization have to recognise the inter-dependency and reliance that a diversified, distributed engaged group of people can bring to accelerate innovation to share, explore and work on turning ideas into new solutions .

What we need to find is ways to absorb this flow of daily knowledge, quickly recognise where it might meet our needs and then fit these to the wider audiences available that search for innovative solutions. There is an awful lot that can derive from a more distributed innovation network that allows a greater flow across a networked organization.

Approaching absorption in two ways

Absorptive capacity captures and enables this flow in each direction. Nesta through its research into this absorptive need  also suggested a model called the AC/DC model where they argue you need to develop two broad sets of capacities: the absorptive capacity (AC) to identify, value, and assimilate and the development capacity (DC) of places to develop and exploit such knowledge.

AC/DC Model

We need to adopt a more distributed innovation model in our thinking

Applying these two models into your thinking to achieve a more distributed innovation model would help to capture, anchor and diffuse all the innovation that lies not just within the ‘walls’ of your organization but just beyond where your local people can see it, value it and bring it into the organisation as one of their contributions to innovation.

Permit people to ‘see’, to ‘engage’, to become ‘deeply involved’ then organizing around distributed innovation can lead to greater empowerment and sustaining your innovation engine and knowledge. Fortune will favour the connected mind not just the brave lonely few. Absoptive capacity has a clear role to play in building capacity to innovate.

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