The Nonaka and Takeuchi Knowledge Spiral

Creating and Managing New Knowledge

The Nonaka and Takeuchi Knowledge Spiral - Creating and Managing New Knowledge

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Create new knowledge in a continuing spiral.

Many teams possess a wealth of knowledge and experience, but only some manage this advantage in an effective way.

For example, in the late 1970s, the Japanese car manufacturer Honda took a bold new approach to developing its next model. The company wanted to come up with a completely new concept and to make a car that was inexpensive but not cheap. They adopted the slogan, “Let’s gamble,” which allowed them to tap into the knowledge, skills and unconventional ideas of their young designers in order to come up with something “new.” The result was the Honda City®, an affordable, compact-but-spacious car that defied traditional design and engineering.

The Honda story is an example of how a company shared its existing knowledge and experience across departments to spark ideas and create "new knowledge."

The concept of shared knowledge turning abstract ideas into actionable plans in a self-perpetuating cycle of innovation is the basis of the Nonaka and Takeuchi Knowledge Spiral.

In this article, we examine this theory. We also explore six activities that you can use to apply it.

What Is the Nonaka and Takeuchi Knowledge Spiral?

Ikujiro Nonaka, professor emeritus at the School of International Corporate Strategy at Hitotsubashi University in Japan, and Hirotaka Takeuchi, a professor at Harvard Business School in the U.S., were the first people to link Japanese companies' success to their ability to create new knowledge and share it effectively.

Nonaka and Takeuchi asserted that, when you create new knowledge, you can respond quickly to customer demands, create new products and ways of working, and sustain a competitive advantage. So they created a model, the Nonaka and Takeuchi Knowledge Spiral, to show how knowledge can be generated, transferred and recreated within organizations....

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