These little HBR booklets are part of their ‘Classics’ series that contain breakthrough ideas in management. This particular one called ‘The Knowledge Creating Company’ by Ikujiro Nonaka shows how a company can exploit its knowledge to continually innovate. It was written in 1991 and many examples are from the Japanese approach that impressed the importance of ‘tacit’ knowledge – the ‘valuable and highly subjective insights and intuitions that are difficult to capture and share because people carry them in their heads’.
I bought it many years ago but came across it again recently. This time round, I thought about the application to AI and how the tacit knowledge that we can’t capture online is essential for AI training data to help it learn it to get to the next level of intelligence. Sometimes it’s the data that isn’t written down and explicit which can make the difference. The author suggests that the best companies survive by creating new knowledge, disseminating it widely and quickly leveraging it. If we apply this to AI, maybe the secret to intelligence will be the speed at which the AI acquires new knowledge and learns from it. More to think about and discuss in a future post.