ABSORPTIVENESS – bringing fresh perspectives into your organisation by absorbing, assimilating and deploying insights from emerging social, economic and technological trends, as well as learning from innovative practice in other organisations.

The Essential Fifth Element describes a mutually-reinforcing system of workplace practices which, in combination, creates a self-sustaining momentum of learning, improvement and innovation. Involving employees at every level in frequent opportunities for reflection, learning, improvement and idea generation enables organisations and their workforces to adapt more readily to external shocks and opportunities and assimilate changes such as strategic reorganisation or the introduction of new technologies. Absorptiveness fuels this self-sustaining momentum by stimulating knowledge-sharing, dialogue and creative thinking, for example in employee forums, employee-driven innovation activities and departmental/team meetings – so there is a clear link back to each of the four Element modules in the Practitioner Programme.

Exercise 1: Absorptiveness

‘Organisations grow through what they know . . .’  The challenge is one of developing ‘absorptive capacity’ – the ability to find, assimilate and use new knowledge to advantage. There are many aspects to good absorptive capacity, and Professor John Bessant’s Absorptive Capacity Audit is a self-assessment tool that breaks them down into a series of specific attributes and practices.

Download the Audit here and share it with at least two other colleagues in your organisation. Can you agree on the answers?

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