Public Speaking as a Knowledge Creation Tool

In the web2.0 era, we are engulfed with technology driven collaboration. Data driven societies are emerging and it is the rise of the business analytics which deliver insight and drive companies forward. The medium of communication is highly diversified, greatly expanded in scope and reach and information is accessible to levels not imagined before.

However, concepts are changed, paradigms shifted, motivations rise, focus reigns only when leaders put context to information. This concept is what Japanese philosophers called the ‘Ba’.

Concept of ‘Ba’

Nonaka, who coined the SECI model of knowledge creation redefines ‘Ba’ as the shared space and time when individuals cease to just interact but create valuable knowledge. Individuals, groups and groups of groups can also share common goals, ideals and mindsets besides space and time.

‘Ba’ represents a shared space where human interaction takes place for knowledge creation. This space can be physical (meeting room), virtual (webex, twitter etc) or conceptual (shared ideals, experiences).

In other words, ‘Ba’ gives context and meaning. Its the place where individuals start feeling to be a part of the whole, and blend into their environment for a common goal.

“Ba is the platform for the resource concentration of the organization’s knowledge assets and the intellectualizing capabilities within the knowledge creation processes.”

According to the SECI model, knowledge creation is an infinite, iterative spiral between Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Internalization. Further detail is given here.

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‘Ba’ and the SECI Model:

Nonaka’s extension to the philosophy of ‘Ba’ can be found when he related his SECI model and determines what role the ‘Ba’ plays in each role and phase of the project.

seci_and_ba

Public Speaking as Knowledge Creation Tool:

Public speaking is a perfect platform for Zen Learning. The entire audience of individuals come together on a single place, share the same time, and attend the same speech(es). The speakers(s) initializes the ‘Ba’ by setting the tone of the knowledge creation.

Public Speaking, thus, is a fantastic platform to enable knowledge creation as it serves as a very strong ‘Ba’.

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Originating Ba:

According to Nonaka, ‘New knowledge begins from chaos’.

Chaos is the ideals, the thoughts, the concepts a company’s leadership communicates to the people. Usually this message is metaphorical and motivational and it identifies common goals.

Nonaka says it is during socialization where ‘Ba’ originates.

Nonaka argues that ‘Ba’ is the fundamental reason d’etre for Socialization (because) “when knowledge is created, the personnel possessing knowledge and the knowledge base of a company are focused at a defined space and time.”

Love, care, trust and commitment emerges from Originating Ba. This is the phase where public speeches arouse feelings, emotions, experiences and mental models.

Public Speeches arouse knowledge, vision and culture: the fundamentals of Ba.

Interacting Ba:

During the speech, the audience starts forming a group based on fused ideas and points of view on the speaker’s oration. Thus, public speaking entices externalization as well.

Depending on the type of speech, self-transcendence allows the audience to integrate into groups based on the different view points.

One of the factors which enable externalization through speeches is the articulation of Tacit Knowledge. This is where the speaker communicates his tacit knowledge and thus makes it explicit.

Dialogue is key to convert tacit to explicit knowledge in this externalization phase. The use of metaphors is very important and an interactive dialogue helps. Engagement is key to create shared value.

Cyber Ba:

This phase is made up of three primary activities. Public Speaking helps in all three of them.

i. Collection:

Public speeches are (usually) based on prepared, well collected and summarized narratives which represent the intended zeitgeist.

Group knowledge is preserved, well documented usually through multimedia technology and in forms, which are easy to comprehend.

ii. Dissemination:

Speech delivery is direct and has uninterrupted attention of the audience as compared to other forms of communication. The shared ‘Ba’ has the same message and thus focus is intact. Distribution is direct and usually interactive.

iii. Processing

Audiences of public speeches are able to process and deduce their findings based on their personal thoughts and those of the group. These group thoughts are captured through discussions, questions posted to the speaker, applause and other emotional reactions.

Exercising Ba:

Conversion of explicit knowledge back into tacit knowledge through practice and action.

Public speakers understand the concepts only by practicing to communicate the same to others. Through delivery, their externally sapped knowledge becomes internalized as a result of practice.

Focused training with senior mentors and colleagues by allowing for open discussions and participation by the ‘crowd’, each can get a feel of the message imparted through practice.

Conclusion:

Leaders of many companies and other organizations have  kept a direct communication channel with the employees at times and the message is usually quite personal and motivational. Most of the times inspiration can spark the energy in an organization which defy traditional theories of performance management and productivity.Public Speaking is an important tool in Knowledge Creating companies.

To conclude, do watch this:

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  1. November 9th, 2012

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