Report: Knowledge Management and Social Innovation Study Meeting, February 19-22, 2013, Sri Lanka

Group Photo of Participants

Group Photo of Participants

BACKGROUND OF THE PROJECT

Asian economies are growing rapidly, but income disparities are widening and social issues plague a large segment of the population. Tackling social issues is very important for APO economies to continue their current growth paths and achieve more sustainable, inclusive development. To that end, innovation in tandem with effective KM can play an important role. Social innovation is the process of developing, securing support for, and implementing new solutions to social needs and problems. The key challenge for the actors in society, ranging from governments to businesses, is to introduce innovation strategically to solve social issues and satisfy social needs.

The promotion of social entrepreneurship and socially responsible business is one effective avenue to achieve greater social good, which involves connecting social problems, challenges, and opportunities with increased productivity and knowledge creation. A quintessential example of social innovation is the microfinance schemes of the Grameen Bank in an attempt to combat intractable poverty by increasing the access of the poor to capital. Such social innovation becomes sustainable and powerful with effective KM through systematically creating and translating valuable tacit knowledge on solving social problems into explicit knowledge and scalable via business and other productive means.

This study meeting will examine the roles of KM in contemporary social innovation and look at its processes and strategies by referring to best practices and examples. The key components of social innovation such as social capital, social entrepreneurship, and an enabling culture and environment, including social media and technological network tools, will be also discussed.

OBJECTIVES

(1) To study emerging trends in knowledge management (KM) applications in social innovation in the Asia-Pacific;

(2) To examine the roles of KM in effective social innovation as well as the roles of different actors, ranging from business enterprises to policymakers, in promoting knowledge creation to contribute to social innovation; and

(3) To enhance the participants’ knowledge and understanding of potential KM applications in social enterprises.

OBJECTIVES FOR PARTICIPATION

I want to learn the ongoing trends and upcoming developments about knowledge management and social innovations. I also want to gain new insights about the experiences of other institutions in the Asia Pacific region regarding how they translated their knowledge management into socially beneficial programs. In the same manner, I hope to share my own experiences that had been successfully implemented by my two companies.

PARTICIPANTS

The study meeting was attended by 14 participants from 18 countries: Bangladesh, Camodia (2), Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka (6), and Thailand.

RESOURCE AND GUEST SPEAKERS

UNITED KINGDOM
Mr. Ronald Young
CEO
Knowledge Associates Cambridge Ltd.

UNITED STATES
Mr. Naoki Ogiwara
Senior Knowledge Management Officer
Financial and Private Sector Development
The World Bank

JAPAN
Mr. Takuto Motomura
CEO
Granma Inc.

SRI LANKA
Mr. Uchita de Zoysa
Chairman, Global Sustainability Solutions (GLOSS),
and Executive Director, Centre for Environment and Development (CED)

SCOPE, CONTENT AND METHODOLOGY

SCOPE AND CONTENT

  1. Social innovation process, strategies, and components;
  2. Best practices of social innovation;
  3. KM tools and techniques in the social innovation context; and
  4. Challenges and opportunities (i.e., innovation and value creation)

METHODOLOGY

The study meeting consisted of presentations of topics by the resource speakers followed by active discussions pertaining to the preceding subject. Two guest speakers were invited to share their experiences in KM and SI. Mr Uchita De Zoysa of Sri Lanka presented about climate sustainability and Mr Takuto Motomura presented innovative product ideas which could be produced and marketed in under-developed countries. There were also group discussions on case studies and commenting on organization/company projects. Their outputs were presented by the participants to the whole attendees.

Only 4 participants (Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia) were able to present their country or company papers. The representative from the Philippines presented the experience of Leonie Agri Corp in knowledge sharing about their best practices in integrated organic agriculture using a faith based approach in management, and social innovations by integrating the small farmers, indigenous tribes and rebel returnees/upland farmers to their business model as network of suppliers. Cambodia affirmed the need for social innovations and highlighted some good practices of the Philippine representative, particularly the values formation. He then spoke a little bit of the ongoing projects of the governor in Pursat province. Thailand presented the key projects of the Office of the Knowledge Management of the Prime Minister. And lastly, Malaysia presented the issues and challenges of Sime Darby Property, and the trends and developments of knowledge management in Malaysia, wherein Sime Darby is working hand in hand with the government sector.

OUTCOMES AND EVALUATION

The study meeting examined the roles of knowledge management in the context of creating social innovation and look at its processes and strategies by referring to best practices and examples done by some institutions. The resource speakers explained the key components of social innovation, which are social capital, social entrepreneurship, and an enabling culture and environment. These include using social media and technological network tools as enablers.

I learned that Knowledge Management (KM) comprises a range of strategies and practices being used by an organization to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable adoption of insights and experiences of the stakeholders of that organization. Those insights and experiences comprise of knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organizations as processes or practices. Knowledge management efforts typically focus on organizational objectives such as improved performance, competitive advantage, innovation, the sharing of lessons learned, integration and continuous improvementof the organization. Primarily, it is an enabler of organizational learning and a more concrete mechanism to enhance the organization’s overall performance and efficiency. Moreover, it dawned on me that KM efforts can overlap with organizational learning and may become more beneficial through an emphasis on the management of knowledge as a strategic advantage by encouraging the sharing of knowledge to gain greater good, especially solving a particular societal issue.

This is the first time that APO and WB combined knowledge management and social innovation. SI refers to strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet the social needs of all kinds – from working conditions and education to community development, climate change and health – and that extend and strengthen civil society.

During the group discussion about the topic, members of our group find SI to have overlapping meanings. It can be used to refer to social processes of innovation, and it can also refer to innovations which have a social purpose, like micro-credit  or distance learning.  The concept can also be related to social entrepreneurship and can take place within the government, the for-profit sector, the nonprofit sector, or in the spaces between them. APO has initiated this first study meeting of the combined KM and SI to produce a SI framework.  It won’t be easy since SI is often an effort of mental creativity which involves fluency and flexibility from a wide range of discipline.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS

Since the advocacy of Leonie Agri Corporation pertains to food safety, natural medicines/health & wellness products, inclusive business strategy and sustainable ecology, I will try to promote organic agriculture and share LAC’s environment friendly practices either in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture or with non-government organizations that adhere to these concerns in order to generate multiplier effect.

SUBMITTED BY:

GUILLERMO SARET JR.
President/CEO
Leonie Agri Corporation

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