Visiting Ikujiro Nonaka, Grandfather of Scrum


I visited Prof. Ikujiro Nonaka, the grandfather of Scrum yesterday.  Since I co-authored with him “Agile and Scrum” two years ago, we have been enjoying opportunities of discussion occasionally.

野中先生を一橋に訪ねました。先生との共著(左)「アジャイル開発とスクラム」を書いてから2年経ちましたが、81歳とは思えないエネルギーと思考力です。今回は、今先生が書いている、ソーシャルイノベーションの書籍のアイディアを交換するものです。継続的イノベーションを起こす組織とSECI モデル、スクラムの関係を解く内容になるということです。

He was very energetic at his age of eighty one(!), and invited me to his office at Hitotsubashi University to discuss the idea of social innovation, on which he is currently working, to publish a new book.

Here’s some of the topics we have covered in the two hours discussion.

  • He thinks that PDCA loop is not a model for innovation/agility because it starts with “a written plan”, and refers to OODA(Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) by John Boyd(fighter pilot) as an agile “maneuver warfare” model(coincidentally, Jeff Sutherland once was a fighter pilot). OODA starts with “Observe” and is for a personal decision making process in fighting context. But Takeuchi and Nonaka’s SECI(Socialize-Externalize-Combine-Internalize) model is an organizational knowledge creation model in innovational co-creation context. It starts with “Socialization” or empathy, i.e. how you can empathize with others without language through experience, before it is written.
    元々先生は、PDCA をイノベーション(あるいはアジャイル)のモデルとして考えていない。Plan という「書かれた」ものが先にあるから。機動的な(アジャイルな)意思決定モデルとして、Jeff Sutherland(戦闘機パイロットの経験がある) も引用している OODA (Observe Orient Decide Act)は John Boyd(戦闘機パイロット)による意思決定モデルがあり、これは観察から始まる。しかし、これは個人のプロセスであり、戦いの文脈。一方、SECIは組織のプロセスであり、共創の文脈。「書かれる」前の「共感」を作るSocialization が先にある。




  • When innovation field moves from company to community(social innovation), the main effort transfers from transaction cost to belief justification cost to communicate belief to outside the boundary.
    カンパニーモデルからからコミュニティモデルにイノベーションが移行すると、扱うコストは、transaction cost (取引コスト)から belief justification cost (思いを伝えるコスト)へと移行する。バウンダリーを超えるコスト。自分たちの思いや信念を他者に共感してもらうこと。
  • Maneuverability of an organization is agility. GE changed their corporate slogan from “GE Growth” to “GE Belief” and changed their leader education. He recently talked with CEO Inamori at JAL, and found he often attends “compa”(internal drinking parties), and values one-to-one communication to the leaders to get empathy for them. It is a mechanism to distribute his leadership. Remember the 6th element of “Phronetic Leadership”(or wise leadership) for distributed leadership. Leaders should be a distributor of leadership, and this aspect recursively creates a fractal organization.
    組織の機動力はアジャイルと繋がっている。共感を作ること。growth から belief へ。GE はスローガンをGE growth からGW Belief に変更してリーダー教育をやり直している。JALの稲盛さんと対談をしたが、コンパを重視し、JAL Way 作りをした。あの歳でもコンパに出て、リーダーシップのdistributorになっており、それは相手への共感を持つことから。フロネティックリーダーの第6要件は、リーダーが、リーダーシップを分散させる、その分散者自身になること。これが再起的にフラクタル組織を作る。

These are some of the issues we covered. I have again thought over his idea of Scrum and current situation of Agile and Scrum(in software development context).


  • The first range of Agile has been “software” and “team”s. It believes “awesome software/product is made by an awesome team.” It also agrees to Conway’s law(parallelism of software architecture and organizational architecture.)
    アジャイルはチームとソフトウエアが射程。「よいソフトウエア作りは、よいチーム作り」という拡張コーンウエイ則。さらに、ソフトウェアとチームの関係は、Jim McKarthy の Core Protocol なんかともつながる。
  • In that range, Agile approaches have worked very well…, not at micro-level(personal) nor macro-level(organization), but at meso-level(team). That was the sweet spot of Agile. But bringing the success into the current organization at an organizational level, I suspect, is not a good idea.(I’m implying “Enterprise Agile” type of approaches)
  • Rather, re-realize the team level is the focus, and the meso-level is the key factor to the quality of the whole.

Prof. Nonaka once said “In Japan, the middle management is going to be the key to innovation. Not top-down or bottom-up, but middle-up-down is the power of Japanese organizations.” Something in common can be addressed about enterprise agile adoptions… but i’m not sure what it is yet.

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