The product you sell is less important these days than a company’s tacit knowledge, Margret Schuller says.
Dr Schuller, who graduated with a PhD from the University of Wollongong on Friday, concentrated on how knowledge should flow within large organisations – and like honey, “stickiness” is the enemy.
“In the past products were basically the competitive advantage,” she explained. “People developed a product, and then they sold it, and then they had the market for quite a while.
“These days, you bring a product on the market, and somebody will bring a product out – despite your patent – that is very similar to what you have. Look at Samsung, look at the iPhone – there’s lots and lots of examples when you can’t basically say whose product is better.
“The product is no longer the competitive advantage, but knowledge is. What companies have found is that knowledge that resides within the company – tacit knowledge that’s within your head, that you have learned over years of experiences – that knowledge is extremely valuable for companies, because that is very difficult to duplicate.”
But it needs to flow.
“When knowledge doesn’t transfer because it gets stuck somewhere, it gets gooey – it doesn’t flow well,” Dr Schuller said.
Dr Schuller’s PhD focused on knowledge transfer and “stickiness” in a multinational organisation, using a large medical equipment company as her study.
Dr Schuller was the eldest student to accept a PhD at this week’s graduations. She has a business consultancy and is going strong at age 71.
“I don’t feel like it, but then nobody ever does,” she said.
- BEN LANGFORD