Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The concept of "Ba"

Ba can be thought of as a shared space for emerging relationships.

This is a quote from Nonaka's paper called (surprise): The concept of "Ba".

Why is this important?

Takeuchi and Nonaka work at a famous business school in Japan, and have been working on New Product Development, and trying to understand how and why some firms have such market success with new products. One of their lines of thinking, after much research in the real world, is that new products are developed by the creation of new knowledge. This is related to the conversion of someone's tacit knowledge (eg, the tacit knowledge that a customer has of his or her own needs) into the explicit knowledge of a small team. And this small team is then able to convert that created knowledge into the creation of a new product.

Takeuchi and Nonaka (and their associates) have then said that Ba is the place (context) in which (a) the tacit knowledge is converted, and (b) the place (context) that invests the team with the ability to make creative discoveries of new products.

So, software development is about creativity.

I urge you to read about and understand "Ba", and to try to create multiple Ba's for your teams. It is a simple concept, like love, but also a most intricate one as well (not unlike real love). (Or, if you have "love your enemies" completely figured out, please write and explain it to me.)

Here are some places to look:

The Concept of "Ba" by Ikujiro Nonaka and Noboru Konno (an article from the California Management Review).

A good review on the web. In the context of knowledge management (which Takeuchi and Nonaka say should be more focused on knowledge creation).

Building Ba to Enhance Knowledge Creation and Innovation at Large Firms by Nonaka, Toyama and Scharmer.

Your must (in my opinion) also read Takeuchi and Nonaka's HBR paper called The New New Product Development Game. It is directly from this paper that Scrum was created, and it is because of the mention of Scrum in this paper that Scrum got its name. I think you can see the concept of Ba start to germinate in their minds in this paper.

Lastly, I show the picture of a book I think you must read (again, in my opinion of course). It has an ungainly title. The book is group of articles, a couple of which are directly about the concept of "Ba". You must read it because you want to create "Ba" (places) to help your teams to greater success for your firm, and for your customers.

1 comment:

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