Distilled Wisdom

Im Karla Phlypo-Price Ph.D. This blog is dedicated to my exploration into open innovation, social media, creativity, intrinsic motivation, collaborative creativity, and the sharing, creation, and integration of knowledge.

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Facilitating Ideation with External Open Collaborative Communities_SI…

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to post the presentation I gave at the SIKM monthly Meeting.  I hope you find the content edifying.

Defining the Various Communities in Innovation


Defining the various types of communities - both internal and external to an organization. 
As one views the rapidly evolving landscape of innovation and/or knowledge management, there are terms (some new, some old) being bantered about to describe observed phenomena.  The problem is that it is natural to apply meaning to words that have similar but quite different uses.  This could be construed as splitting hairs, but I think it is really important to aptly characterize the meaning of words so that we can expand mutual understanding.  To that end, this blog post attempts to define the various  types of community/groups that work internal and external to the conventional institutional and enterprise environment.
Some types of communities/groups may be familiar to most in business and education.  For instance, terms like ‘communities of practice’, ‘crowdsourcing’, or ‘open innovation’ are all terms that have been well defined - or have they?  The following set of definitions are derived from literature as well as my own observation - where I feel it is important to make a distinction between them.

Communities of Practice (CoP):
Groups that work within an enterprise or institution who have shared goals (Swan et al., 2002).  As observed within my own experiences with CoP within the corporate environment, they are organized to improve sharing, creation and integration of knowledge central to the domain or specialization of the group.  They are sometimes cross-functional and the knowledge of one group is shared with other communities that might interact with deliverables of the other community. 

Networked Communities:
Networked communities typically have been defined from the perspective of interaction between one organization and another.  Tier one, two or three suppliers are consider part of a networked community.  The unique aspect of this type of community is that they embody knowledge- centric beliefs, the community at large is able to leverage, integrate and learn from one another.  The relationship changes from supply to supply/share/build in a co-dependent manner.  To be able to motivate and leverage this within a system is powerful.  It also assumes a less competitive and adversarial environment.

Lately, crowdsourcing seems to be used as a catchall phrase.  The term describes the use of external groups of talent.  The most common way to consider crowd sourcing - implying no collaboration - but a crowd as a group of individuals that generally compete with one another for prizes and/or payment.  They could also be considered freelance services.  Organization often use this model to expand their capacity and to distribute labor for projects that lack internal expertise or a need for fresh ideas from external sources.  The organization generally does not have a one to one relationship with these individual.  It is a crowd - a bunch of individuals.  They are not organized into a community.

                              Open Innovation and Collaboration
Open collaboration should be used as a container phrase that I believe captures the essence of the activities of the following types of communities.  My preference is to use the term ‘open innovation’ as a verb and not to define any specific group activity or community.

Open Innovation Communities
Open innovation is a shift from enterprise driven projects to projects and activities that are partly driven by individuals that share an interest.  Many institutions and enterprises try to leverage these communities of experts and enthusiasts.  Open innovation is driven by collaboration.  We find projects conceived by community members who are challenging themselves to grow and expand on innovative IT solutions for example.  These groups are often self organizing and have a floating leadership structure.

Peer to Peer Communities
Peer to peer communities are similar to the above open innovation communities.  The peer to peer community is comprised of individuals who meet-up to share experiences on topics of mutual interest.  They generally have few ties to the corporate world and would be considered amateurs.  The word amateur may imply they have little experience and they are not indeed experts, but some of these individuals show tremendous competency in their areas of interest.  They may have knowledge of conventional scientific and engineering principles, yet they often choose to chuck them out the window and experiment with concepts that are not meant to be used in the manner the community is trying to use them - which defines them as true innovators!  It is from this group that the next term originates.  I needed to include them because they are the embodiment of the Peer to Peer community - they are ProAm’s

ProAm’s were noticed and defined by Leadbeater (2010)  They are the utmost experts in repurposing of unexpected processes and/or products.  They are responsible for mountain bikes, bio-hackers (who choose to challenge conventional wisdom and have developed their own personal form of health and life enhancement), and those interested in natural building methods. These are a few groups that exhibit the ProAm behavior.

Open Communities of Practice (OCoP)
The last community type I believe needs clear definition here are open communities of practice (OCoP).  Some have said this is redundant with the previous definition of CoP yet I argue it is not at all the same as internal communities - which are essentially closed.  Managed by a formal structure, the leadership is generally conventionally defined. 

These open groups are not led, they are wholly independent, yet function well through facilitation.  OCoP currently serve as the ‘idea engines’ for only a small number of organizations at present.  These open and collaborative communities are cross disciplinary (Phlypo, 2014).  The membership does not start with new participants as they generally have a cohesive component.  Whereas in most of the aforementioned communities, the expertise is focused generally within a specialization.  This group has a cross-functional nature and they function together as a community - building and expanding knowledge - collectively and collaboratively.  

In summary, there is a clear spectrum of definitions that range from communities, crowds, to ProAms, and the open collaborative community.  Each one has distinctive characteristics.  My intent here is to help provide further clarity as we go forward.  The more we discuss, and achieve consistency on definitions, the better we are able to research these various groups and to look for overlap as well as differences.  I’m certain there are more types that I have not included, or different terms that basically mean the same thing.  This was my attempt to bring some clarity for myself and for those who have wondered about the differences and need a more succinct way to conceptualize these communities.  More to come. 

My next post will describe some organizational structures that generally employ these various crowds and communities.  


Ebner, W., Leimeister, J.M. & Krcmar, H., 2009. Community engineering for innovations: the ideas competition as a method to nurture a virtual community for innovations. R&D Management, 39(4), pp.342–356.
Leadbeater, C., 2005. Charles Leadbeater on innovation-TED.com. Available at: http://www.ted.com/speakers/charles_leadbeater.html.
Leadbeater, C. & Miller, P., 2004. The pro-am revolution : how enthusiasts are changing our society and economy, London: Demos.
Leadbeater, C., 2010. We-Think: Mass innovation, not mass production, Profile books.
Pan, Y. & Blevis, E., 2011. A survey of crowdsourcing as a means of collaboration and the implications of crowdsourcing for interaction design. In Collaboration Technologies and Systems (CTS), 2011 International Conference on. pp. 397–403.
Phlypo, K.S. 2013, Emerging Forces of Innovation: Bridging Enterprises and Open Communities of Practice, Walden University.
Sharma, A., 2010. Crowdsourcing Critical Success Factor Model. Strategies to harness the collective intelligence of the crowd.
Sloane, P., 2011. A guide to open innovation and crowdsourcing : expert tips and advice, London; Philadelphia: Kogan Page.
Swan, J., Scarbrough, H. & Robertson, M., 2002. The Construction of `Communities of Practice’ in the Management of Innovation. Management Learning, 33(4), pp.477–496.

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

—Albert Einstein 

(Source: brainyquote.com)

Thoughts from the 8th annual ECIE

Just returned from Brussels and the European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  It was very nice to spend time with so many who desire prosperity for their communities.  The talks I attended ranged from disruptive innovation in public service sectors: ambidexterity and the role of incumbents by Wood, Pfotenhauer, Jackson Glover and Newman (2013); to the impact of economic downturn on innovative performance in Poland presented by Matras-Bolibok (2013).  One sentiment I heard over and over again, was that innovative practices are difficult for those who are still heavily influenced by some old beliefs fostered by the communist regimes. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to overcome decades of being told what to do and how to do it for the good of all - to an environment in which each individual must, to a greater extent, think for themselves and not rely on external authority for the hows, wheres and whys of entrepreneurship or innovation.  I hold great respect for all those who desire to help shift thoughts and encourage movement to hybrid forms of commerce that inspire prosperity and trust and migrate from greed and deception.  International conferences I believe, play a vital role in transformation, creating space in which individuals are able to exchange ideas, learn new perspectives, appreciate their differences and through newfound relationships can come up with creative solutions.

I presented a poster which highlighted a unique combination of innovative practices. It was even suggested by some of the conference participants that this hybrid for the enterprise (which I call a bridging enterprise and open community of practice) could be a way to update how innovation incubators are run and staffed.  The concept of open communities providing an innovative force is nothing new.  What is new is the providing of a facilitative bridging role wherein the community works together to improve and innovate products or processes.  [This concept is different than crowd sourcing or open innovation.  In these cases, one works alone (to accomplish tasks as with crowd sourcing) or with other experts - as defined by open innovation (usually related to IT and other engineering endeavors).]

Perhaps current western incubator models do not work as well where the persona and values of the participants are quite different from where the models originate.  This is food for thought, and I see a need to expand upon this in later posts.


10 Years Of Earth’s Weather From Space, In One Mesmerizing Video
In honor of the decommissioning of one of its weather satellites, NOAA put together this video of everything it’s seen during its time in space.
Watch: Co.Exist

Ten years of weather… Wonder if one could see ones region and trends?


10 Years Of Earth’s Weather From Space, In One Mesmerizing Video

In honor of the decommissioning of one of its weather satellites, NOAA put together this video of everything it’s seen during its time in space.

Watch: Co.Exist

Ten years of weather… Wonder if one could see ones region and trends?

(via fastcompany)

8th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Today starts the conference with registration I an interested to listen and to present my progress on my dissertation. The question is does the study of innovation help those who need to deploy new methods and consideration? Will what I have found contribute? I will be blogging on the topics of discussion over the next few days.

Also are innovative practices culture dependent? Are there difference in groups of people— some being more inquisitive then others as a function of culture? These questions might not have come up if this was a US based conference. Very interesting perspectives. Very ernest in finding solutions for economic development.

No man can reveal to you nothing but that which already lies half-asleep in the dawning of your knowledge.

—Khalil Gibran 

(Source: brainyquote.com)

Creative Moon
From our trip down the Columbia River by train (Amtrak Empire Builder).  Hauntingly  beautiful moon.  The train affords a great deal of time for contemplation, relaxation and reflection.  

Creative Moon

From our trip down the Columbia River by train (Amtrak Empire Builder).  Hauntingly  beautiful moon.  The train affords a great deal of time for contemplation, relaxation and reflection.  


Watch The Earth’s Seasonal “Heartbeat” From Outer Space

John Nelson is known for building extremely complex visualizations of weather patterns. But his latest creation is a simple animated GIF of 15 frames from NASA’s cloudless satellite photography collection. It’s essentially a year in the life of Earth.
Here, he shares why the visual is so haunting to him personally and to us collectively. We felt that his thoughts were simply too earnest to abridge.
Read: Co.Design


Watch The Earth’s Seasonal “Heartbeat” From Outer Space

John Nelson is known for building extremely complex visualizations of weather patterns. But his latest creation is a simple animated GIF of 15 frames from NASA’s cloudless satellite photography collection. It’s essentially a year in the life of Earth.

Here, he shares why the visual is so haunting to him personally and to us collectively. We felt that his thoughts were simply too earnest to abridge.

Read: Co.Design

(via fastcompany)

Putting Creativity To Work in Your Organization


Article annotation: Putting Creativity to Work: The Implementation of Creative Ideas in Organizations (Baer, 2012)

Baer (2012) discussed the fact that ideas are useless unless they have a specific recognizable process to support idea implementation. Baer also suggested that people need to have a social setting which helps the idea materialize and validate. the study argued that individuals that had high motivation (whether intrinsic or extrinsic) to move their ideas forward with the support of a strong social network and strong buy-in ties (advocacy, mentorship, leader buy-in) were more likely factor toward influencing implementation of the idea into a product, process or service.  

Article Results

The outcome suggested by Baer (2012) is that a manager must balance both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and they must understand which their employees value more (intrinsic or extrinsic) and balance a the motivational rewards accordingly.  Another outcome of the study suggests that by promoting collaboration and providing an environment that provides ways for employees to gather is also a very influential factor in getting creative ideas that have greater potential for implementation.  For instance organizations could leverage communities of practice, lunch and learns, quarterly idea briefings or even knowledge jams to promote greater networking ability.

Practical Conclusions:

If your organization relies on employees to support the innovation process, one must take the time to develop four areas below.  

1) management must closely understand employee motivations and be able to act on those motivations, in a systematic and predictable way.  For example if the employee is motivated primarily by intrinsic means they may value autonomy and greater self mastery.  Managers must be willing and have the ability to enable these concepts systematically.  Which means the organization needs to think about how extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are implemented.  

2) management should provide an environment where collaboration is encouraged and must provide a platform that is safe for individuals to network.

3) management must have a consistent way for those with ideas to socialize whether in communities of practice or in other structures.  

4) consistent implementation of expected outcome is also critical to idea and potential innovation utilization.


Baer, M. (2012). Putting creativity to work: The implementation of creative ideas in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 55(5), 1102–1119. doi:10.5465/amj.2009.0470

(Source: dx.doi.org)

Knowledge is love and light and vision.

—Helen Keller 

(Source: brainyquote.com)

In all things it is better to hope than to despair.

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(Source: quotations.about.com)

New Year’s Reflection 1 - In the still of the night

My final reflection for 2012 considers one of the huge paradigms that is arisen in the last few years - the rapidly increasing desire for people to connect (hence the rise of social media).  These connections are, for the first time, shaping the way businesses behave and more often now, try to take financial advantage of the masses with unpopular agreements or addendum’s.  But these organizations will not last long if they behave without integrity.  Many governments have already taken steps to constrict the newfound online voice of the people (China, middle east, even Russia now is tightening up).  The leaders don’t want to allow any unsupportive voices and they don’t want to change their ways.  These new voices will not be held back.  Governmental controls to suppress it will not work, because truth will win in the long run.  

In 2013 we will watch, and hold the feet (of those who say they are) our representatives to the fires of truth, compromise, understanding, compassion.  Hopefully this new social community (of very diverse views) can encourage our representatives to behave in a unifying manner.  Do not let those who would divide us because of ideological rhetoric, cause us to take our eyes off the ball (of integrity).  The peoples’ priorities are peace, a way to make a living, time to love our families, pursue dreams of what is possible, healthy food, open communication, good education for our children and for ourselves.  We want to be able to worship in any way we desire.  Now, how those things are pursued in the coming year will be unique to each of us, but I’m sure we can agree that these are still the values that bind us, not tear us asunder.

Let’s be the ones to remember - we have more in common then we recognize.  Let 2013 be a year of unity around greater possibilities - for we are one people.  

New Year’s Reflection 2 - Variety is the Spice of Creativity

Goethe stood out in his time, a brilliant ‘renaissance person’.  He was an explorer of art, literature, philosophy and  science.  Like so many of our most brilliant men and women throughout history, he seemed to be a ‘whole-brained’ and ‘multi-faceted’ man.  These types of individuals, who have intense curiosity in many areas of interest, can access a deeper well of creativity to draw from - and a wider range of solutions.  

Single mindedness - a individual in pursuit of answers - has become a relic of the past.  Unity mindedness however, allows for some focused thinking and unique personal realities, but also enables action from a unified perspective which is to acknowledge, respect and appreciate the knowledge of others (no matter their background, educational level, or credentials) and thus leverage a maximum exposure to the diversity of thought.  

Having an array of experiences certainly expands one’s creative capacity.   Obviously, when we draw from many viewpoints and perspectives, one is able to more effectively construct, from ones own heart and intellect, what is ‘truth’ for one’s self.

Despair/anger/frustration arises when we cannot see other solutions, when we are trapped by our own paradigms and dogma.  For the modern day ‘renaissance person’, who has a much wider range of experiences to draw from, these negative emotions are less likely to attack.  

I suggest, when planning your 2013, to include scheduling in some ‘out of the box ’ experiences… some unusual and exciting events that can expand you beyond your paradigms and open you to the outrageous solutions that are just waiting.