Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Outlawing Not Invented Here

"Not invented here" is one of the most difficult barriers to overcome in knowledge management. Basically "not invented here" is a symptom of an unwillingness to learn, and there is absolutely no point in creating the best knowledge sharing system if your organization has a learning problem.

Now there are various ways of discouraging "not invented here", or subtly encouraging the reuse of knowledge, but if you are looking for a lasting and sustained culture change, then ultimately "not invented here" has to be outlawed.

It has to become unacceptable behaviour.

It has to become as unacceptable as risky behaviour in a safety-conscious organisation, or is unacceptable as discriminatory behaviour in a diversity-focused organisation.

One way to address this, is to refuse to sanction any project or investment which has been "only invented here." As an example, BP Exploration would not sanction any project if it had not held a Peer Assist to bring in knowledge from other parts of the organisation. They are now taking this further, by verifying that the knowledge shared at the peer assist is been acted upon.

Another leader refused to accept "only invented here", by introducing what he calls "no single source solutions". It is a stated point of principle within his part of the organisation to have no single source solutions, solutions which have been worked up by one person with no input from other parts of the business. Single-source solutions represent "only invented here", and by refusing to accept these, he gives the message that solutions have to be based on multiple input and external knowledge. "There were no single source solutions. We did not allow that" he reports.

These are two examples where "not invented here" is a recipe for failure within your own organisation; failing to acquire funding, and looking stupid in front of the manager.

Two examples where "not invented here" has been outlawed.

1 comment:

John Sea said...

Right to the point! Usually there are good excuses for such an organization that any proprietary knowledge sharing would cause legal issues.

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