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The wisdom of new companies

A path to achieve a type of product organisation where the “human capital” takes on an increasingly essential and indispensable role

Human capital. And therefore, paying greater attention to the women and men who live and work within companies, to the “human content” involved in the organisation of production. This is not a new theme, and yet we never stop exploring it. It’s inevitable, considering the endless variety of human relationships and of the companies in which they take shape. L’impresa saggia. Come le imprese creano l’innovazione continua (The wise company. How companies create continuous innovation) by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi, recently published in Italy, is a book to be read precisely by those who wish to earnestly explore and delve into the plethora of topics that bind together production and its human components.
The title accurately summarises its content. According to the two authors, “wise companies” are those that are able to have an impact on human relationships in order to instil new knowledge in organisational practices and turn it into continuous activity and innovation at individual, corporate and social level. A company’s ability to take on change arises from this wisdom. Especially today, when on one hand it’s important to “manage change at high speed” while on the other it’s essential to not only focus on one’s own results but also on ensuring that the objectives of company and society are aligned. For Nonaka and Takeuchi, the keystone to the development of continuous innovation lies in the cultivation of a practical wisdom, moulded by values, ethics and morality.
The two researchers are acknowledged as the intellectual fathers of knowledge management, especially due to their work entitled The knowledge-creating company. They apply their – rather complex – reasoning to the stories of dynamic, long-lived and sustainable groups: from Honda to Shimano, from Eisai to Toyota, from Apple to MIT Media Lab. The lowest common denominator linking these companies is the excellence of their “bosses”, who were able to activate the whole structures they oversaw in order to create new products and new processes, from which yielded great benefits for collaborators, customers, community and society.
The book is divided into two distinct parts. The first part expounds the theoretical basis required to “shift from knowledge to wisdom”; the second part explores “six practices” needed to give shape and content to the wise company.
A human-centric model for product organisation and its management emerges from Nonaka and Takeuchi’s work, a model able to spark virtuous circles of knowledge creation and activate innovation as an agent of change. It requires, however, great open-mindedness and the ability to question many already established management principles.

L’impresa saggia. Come le imprese creano l’innovazione continua (The wise company. How companies create continuous innovation)
Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi
Guerini Next, 2021