As many innovation processes are triggered by the reception of a topic from partners and customers, monitoring developments, selecting relevant topics, and connecting these with already existing knowledge becomes important. Subsequent building of competences, internal announcement, e.g., in competence catalogues or profiles, integration and joint application are processes currently rarely well organised. This is especially true for SMEs without a separate R&D department and strategy. Knowledge workers gather bits and pieces of information about the topic of interest without guidance or participate in expensive formal trainings. However, these learning processes are not targeted towards this goal because what has been learned is not easily applicable in the organisational context. Formal trainings offer mature knowledge, but they are only available with an often considerable time lag, particularly in emerging topics. In addition to the challenges of transitions of external to internal knowledge, guiding these processes requires a more holistic view of the knowledge and learning processes.
This is offered by MATURE. MATURE introduces the notion of maturity of artefacts as a criterion for their appropriateness and the notion of maturing characterizing the activities of the individual, which are interwoven processes of learning and working. The conceptual model of knowledge maturing leads to a new understanding which is exemplified by the technological support in PLMEs. PLMEs support the individual learner in developing her competencies in an environment which does not only consist of well-prepared learning material, but also of communication artefacts, documents, task lists, processes and taxonomic structures. Through the embeddedness in work activities, learning in such environments has a much bigger effect on the competency to act.
Product, Service or Process Innovation
Organisations need to pass on knowledge from their research and architecture groups, for example, about new base technologies, to distributed development teams, to their marketing, sales, and customer support employees, and even to external solution partners, which are in many cases SMEs. Currently, the time needed to pass on the knowledge is often a major obstacle to faster rollout of new product releases. Inefficient learning and innovation processes cause a time lag that decelerates the rollout of new products or services significantly. Similar observations can be made not only with respect to products and services, but also regarding internal processes. Here everyday work practice often stimulates improvements that the organisation has to take up by redesigning its business processes.
MATURE does not only consider the individual side of learning, but also the organisational side. The concept of an OLME allows for analyzing learning activities occurring in a bottom-up fashion and provides the basis for decisions on investing resources to amplify certain learning activities, both on the individual level and on the level of communities. This leads to efficient innovation processes as it leverages the creativity of the individuals and ensures their contribution to corporate goals.