"to improve" is a verb. A verb is a "doing word". Improvement is action. Collecting and storing examples of good practice is a displacement for action. Huge knowledge banks where the thing of the 1980's (yes, thirty years ago) and by the late 1990's were largely discredited as a mechanism for helping spread good practice. The few organisations that did manage to leverage the codified knowledge, did so because they institutionalised through clever IT systems, the search and sharing of knowledge. Note, this sharing was linked to the individuals with the ideas and not odd pieces of extracted information. The personal relationship mattered.
What does the modern day action to improve look like when we are aiming to avoid the reinvention of wheels?
a) We crowdsource. We call on the community for their ideas. However, asking for and then collating ideas is not crowd sourcing - it is a cheap way to create an ineffective database. Crowdsourcing works when participants rate ideas, decide which is best. Many organisational leaders fear crowdsourcing because the answers may not be what they want.
b) We get more active in presenting the problems and then asking people to provide answers - as an open call. The joy in this approach is it is not limiting the solution to the thinking and mindsets of employees. This has been around for at least a decade and the are many websites and systems to help make this happen. Some organisations even provide all their data so others, not part of the organisation, can use it to help solve the problem. The first step to making this happen s to give up control and to ask for help.
In the UK we are experiencing the crowdsourcing as the Government has set up systems to ask for ideas on solving problems. I like the way they are asking the citizens on ideas and not restricting it to Government employees only.
Crowdsourcing gives the vote to the hungry consumers and nto to the turkeys.
Some Crowdsourcing links and resources
1. Wikipedia: for starters
2. IdeaScale is where you can set up your own Q&A and ranking community for innovations. There are hundreds of existing web applications for crowdsourcing so if you are spending money creating your own then let's hope there is am excellent reason for doing so.
3. Fevote - place to make suggestions and get votes on them (great for research and tests of change)
4. Kluster: - stunning group decision-making tool
5. Good blog post on crowd sourcing resources