23 May 2017

Knowledge is at the core of any successful collaboration. But how do participants ensure that collective knowledge is captured, shared and leveraged for the benefits of all the stakeholders?

Culture is key - the most successful collaborations are those that find a way to capture the innovative outputs without limiting the dynamism and enthusiasm of their creators. Large organisations should be wary of imposing formulaic and process driven knowledge techniques on their co-collaborators, inadvertently stifling the very opportunism, energy and creativity that drove the collaboration. Likewise, SMEs should expect to bring some order and rigour to their knowledge to ensure that it is captured and flows more widely within the collaboration. All parties should engage early to agree a common middle ground – a dynamic, bespoke knowledge culture that works for the new order.

Collaborations should structure their physical and virtual environments accordingly, incentivising staff to share and discuss their work and findings freely with colleagues. Instilling a collegiate culture of sharing and transparency that works for all parties must be a priority – what this looks like will vary significantly by business type, industry and sector. The knowledge toolkit available to businesses is vast - whilst the temptation may be to impose a comprehensive tech-led structure from day one, collaborations should focus instead on identifying core risk areas and mitigating these quickly.

Priorities are likely to involve addressing the flight risk of key personnel, converting tacit knowledge into an explicit corporate asset – early-stage business often are at risk of losing their entire intellectual capital if a founder leaves – or focusing on the capture of a core design, technique or process. In each case, the solution should be bespoke to the collaboration, easily implemented and the product of an agreed approach. Other areas of focus should include confidentiality, ownership of IP and the on-boarding of new joiners.