Many groups have a wealth of knowledge and experience, but only some of them can take advantage of this in effective and efficient management. Shared knowledge can turn abstract ideas into practical designs in a continuous and continuous cycle of innovation, the basis of the knowledge spiral of Nonaka and Takochi. In this article, we intend to examine the spiral theory of knowledge of Nonaka and Takuchi.
In the late 1970s, Japanese automaker Honda took a bold new approach to developing its next model. The company wanted to come up with a completely new idea to build a car that was cheap but valuable. That’s why he designed the slogan “Let’s gamble” and finally used the knowledge, skills and non-traditional ideas of his young designers to invent something new. The result was the Honda City car; A low-cost, portable but spacious car that challenges traditional design and engineering.
Honda’s story is an example of how a company can share its current knowledge and experience between different sectors and in turn stimulate ideas and create new knowledge.
What is the knowledge spiral of Nonaka and Takochi?
Ikujiro Nonaka, a retired professor at the School of Corporate Strategy at the University of Hitotsubashi in Japan, and Hirotaka Takeuchi, a professor at Harvard Business School in the United States, were the first to share the success of new Japanese companies in Effective communication.
Nonaka and Takuchi claimed that when you create new knowledge, you can respond quickly to customer demands, create new products and new ways of working, and enhance your competitive advantage. So they created a model called the Nonaka and Takuchi knowledge spiral to show how knowledge can be created, transferred, and recreated in organizations.
They described their model as a spiral instead of a circle because it represents the constant and forward movement of knowledge.
Nonaka and Takochi called the process by which knowledge is shared and created, SECI, which consists of the initials Socialization, Externalization, Combination, and Internalization. In the following, we will describe SECI in detail.
There are usually two types of knowledge in business and information management: explicit and implicit. Explicit knowledge, Is formal knowledge that is included in guides and instructions and is easily shared. Tacit knowledge, Is a personal or informal knowledge or skill that is learned through experience and is rarely shared through documents or processes. For example, the best way to transfer cycling skills is to show the person how to do it instead of giving them a handbook.
Transforming tacit knowledge into explicit means that the knowledge is no longer limited to one person and if that person leaves your organization, his knowledge will not be lost. Formalizing and explicit knowledge can significantly reduce the time it takes for new team members to learn how to do things, which means the organization can progress faster.
Knowledge sharing using the SECI process
Nonaka and Takuchi proposed four ways to create and share knowledge. When knowledge is shared, it can change from implicit to explicit, or vice versa, or remain the same. They called this process SECI, which stands for Socialization and Externalization, and Combination and Internalization.
- socialization (Implicit to implicit): Knowledge is passed from one person to another through the sharing of experiences, role models, observations, and brainstorming.
- To externalize (Explicitly): When you express your ideas, your tacit knowledge becomes explicit knowledge, which makes it easier to spread knowledge in the organization.
- combine (Explicitly): This is the simplest form of knowledge sharing because applied sources of knowledge such as documents; They are combined, arranged, and categorized to create new knowledge.
- Internalize (Explicitly): When knowledge is shared and used throughout the organization, it becomes part of the knowledge of individuals. So as long as people internalize knowledge and add it to their ideas and experiences, it becomes tacit knowledge and thus creates new knowledge.
The diagram above shows how knowledge is shared and transferred using the SECI process. This process, instead of a circle, represents a spiral arrow of continuous creation and forward movement of knowledge.
Using this tool
Here are six activities developed by Georg von Krogh, Kazuo Ichijo and Ikujiro Nonaka to help you promote knowledge creation.
1. Identify the people you want to contribute to. Try to involve as many people as possible in creating knowledge and give them the opportunity to participate. Those with special skills and expertise will motivate the start of knowledge creation and can encourage anyone who participates.
۲. Plan for knowledge management. Think about the information your organization needs to make knowledge more competitive. Once you understand the insight and how it is expected to grow, you can see what tacit knowledge needs to become clear. For example, an accountant may have years of experience that can be turned into a new and innovative approach to financing that can be shared with others to reduce costs.
3. Create the right context. Establish and maintain good relationships within your group. For example, give group members the opportunity to discuss their ideas, create spaces and quiet places for them to talk, and provide technical support for knowledge management initiatives.
4. Create a framework for dialogue. People need to constantly talk about their knowledge so that they can share information, offer different points of view and create new perspectives. Talking about the knowledge spiral can also help them realize the importance of turning tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge that everyone can use.
5. Make knowledge accessible. Expert knowledge often remains in a part of the organization or with an individual, which can cause major problems if that person leaves the organization. Make the knowledge you have in your group accessible to all so that they can access the information they need when needed.
6. Develop explicit knowledge. People who want to access explicit knowledge need to know where to find it. So make sure the explicit knowledge is properly documented. For example, create and distribute learning documents and resources and learning and development programs.
To help gather your group’s knowledge, learn how to create a wiki (encyclopedia) and create a shared workspace.
Refer to Deming’s Organizational Knowledge System article to understand your organization as a whole and how it affects you.
Some experts have expressed concerns about this model. For example, Dr. Stephen Gourlay, an associate professor at Kingston School of Business in the United Kingdom, points out that there are drawbacks to distinguishing between tacit and explicit knowledge. Laird D. McLean, a management consultant, has said that the concept has limited applicability for knowledge creation, as it suspects that it does not accurately explain the mechanisms needed to do so.