While reading about knowledge management and knowledge creation, I came around a research/philosophy paper by Ikujiro Nonaka and Noboru Konno (1998)* about Ba (which I will explain later). I found really interesting how they connected a philosophical notion to a corporate problem such as knowledge management.
Kitaro Nishida’s Ba
While reading it, I was trying to come with examples for my own understanding about what a Ba was and to my surprise the answer was right in front of me: SharePoint.
So, what is a Ba? Ba roughly translates to place in English and it is a philosophical concept proposed by Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida.
Ba can be thought of as a shared space for emerging interactions. It can be a physical, mental or virtual place or even any combination of them.
When we have many Ba’s in the same environment then this environment becomes a Basho and that is exactly what I believe SharePoint is.
SharePoint as a Basho
To understand better how knowledge creation functions and how SharePoint, as a Basho, can be part of it, we have to take a look into Nonaka and Konno‘s (1998)* SECI model.
The SECI model (figure 1.) starts by differentiating between two types of knowledge: explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge can be expressed in words and numbers and shared in the form of data, while tacit knowledge is more personal and as an attribute it is hard to formalize; tacit knowledge has two subsections the “know-how” section, which encompass personal skills or crafts, and the cognitive section which consists on ideals, beliefs, values, etc.
The secret to knowledge creation is to be able to turn the personal tacit knowledge into explicit and then back into tacit knowledge but for the whole organization. The model states that in order for this translation to occur, it has to go through Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Internalization and all of these steps are done through a different type of Ba (Socialization — Originating Ba, Externalization–Interacting Ba, Combination–Cyber Ba, and Internalization–Exercising Ba).
SharePoint has the capabilities to function as a Basho containing these different Ba’s. In the following table there is an explanation of what each sector of the model requires and the features SharePoint has that makes it a suitable Ba, or place, for this sector to emerge.
|SECI Sector||Sector Requirements||SharePoint Features|
|Socialization||Socialization involves the sharing of tacit knowledge between individuals.||Social Networks where ideas can be shared, as well as other communication features such as Lync on line.|
|Externalization||The expression of tacit knowledge and its translation into comprehensible forms that can be understood by others.||Wikis, Forums and the feature of collaborating on the same document with many different people around the organization.|
|Combination||The conversion of explicit knowledge into more explicit sets of explicit knowledge.||The fact that you can search key words, the use of Metadata and data maps to able to feed all the important and available information when people search for it.|
|Internalization||Newly created explicit knowledge is converted into the organization’s tacit knowledge||Achieved in SharePoint through the use of workflows, and how ideas can be turned into actions and processes that can help the productivity of the firm.|
We can see how SharePoint can be seen as a Basho and therefore how in a philosophical and practical point of view it can help your business achieve a better and more efficient culture of knowledge creation.
Through a correct implementation of SharePoint, your company will be able to achieve more collaboration between its people and sectors, this will not only make processes more efficient but it will also help your company become more creative. SharePoint is a great service that can do many things and knowledge creation is only one of them.
If you have more questions about SharePoint and how implement it please don’t hesitate on contacting Optimus Information.
*Nonaka ,I. and N. Konno (1998). The concept of ‘BA’: Building a Foundation for Knowledge Creation. California Management Review, 40(3): 40-54.