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The main quality of a company is “ judge” about its ability to learn. It is on this capacity that we will rely to implement the Lean Six Sigma approach.


Learning is the main capacity of a company and an individual for a Lean Six Sigma approach, where we are constantly in a dynamic of change.

The goal of dynamic learning is to theorize the ability to innovate and develop the tools needed to increase the learning capacity of individuals and businesses.

Creative knowledge or collective learning

Two Japanese authors have shown that learning is a circular process. For them, learning can be taught through training, benchmark… But this learning, in order to be effective, must be internalized, that is to say, enriched, reconstituted and translated to fit the culture of the person and the company.

« Creating new knowledge means in the literal sense, re-creating the company and each of its members through a personal and organizational process of self-renewal. It is not the responsibility of a few selected people, a specialist in research and development, strategic planning or marketing, but everyone in the organization » – Takeuchi and Nonaka

I : individual

G : group

O : organization

Source : I. Nonaka, N. Konno (1998) – The concept of ba : building a foundation for knowledge creation

The representation model is the SECI, allowing to take into account the notion of « ba ». The “ba” is an element of Japanese philosophy : “a shared context in which knowledge is exchanged, created, and used ».


Socialization is the interactive process by which team members construct representations and forms of shared experiences . Socialization is based on sharing experiences and learning from each other. The member, through meetings, exchanges … thus increases his implicit knowledge.


Externalization consists of the transformation of implicit knowledge into explicit knowledge. It is based on dialogue, collective reflection through metaphors, analogies and models.


Combination is the process by which members coordinate and explain their own knowledge to forge common knowledge. It finds its roots in the theory of information processing. Individuals exchange and combine knowledge by means of documents, meetings, telephone conversations, computerized communication networks. That’s when we create a real collective knowledge.


Internalization is based on the appropriation of explicit knowledge in order to enrich our own knowledge base. It is linked to benchmark training … Internalization is based on the means that help members of the organization access the experiences of other members.

From ignorance to the transmission of knowledge

The famous A. Maslow2 worked on learning processes. His theory is based on the fact that it is fundamental to know “where” we are in the learning cycle to know that we can transmit.

He develops a positioning matrix of learning :


1. Know how to position yourself

To learn and change, one must first know how to position oneself:  n he who knows, it is he who knows the limits of his knowledge ” said Aristotle. Maslow proposes to position itself according to the following model :

  • Unconscious / Incompetent : the person does not have the skills and is not aware of this lack of skills. Sometimes she may even be convinced to have the knowledge : Ignorance breeds more self-confidence than does knowledge “Charles Darwin. This quote, now supported by studies3,shows that an incompetent person tends to overestimate his level of competence, fails to recognize the competence of others, and fails to assess their level of incompetence.
  • Conscious / Incompetent :  the person does not have the necessary skills and is aware of them.
  • Conscious / Competent : the person is engaged in the process of acquiring competence. She has reached a threshold of knowledge sufficient to understand and communicate it.
  • Unconscious / Competent : The person has reached a stage where the skill is rooted in the behavior. However, being “ unconscious ” does not allow him to pass it on.

What we know, know that we know it; what we do not know, to know that we do not know it, is to know truly” – Confucius

2. Position yourself to act

From the moment we have been able to position ourselves in the model, we will be able to define what we must do.

  1. The position Unconscious / Incompetent  is the base position of the model. To get out of this position, the challenge is to become aware of our incompetent and that we will have difficulties to face future changes.
  2. Then we become aware that we are incompetent. In this case, training and repeated practice will allow you to increase your skill and move on to the next step.
  3. Third position, Conscious / Competent. We master the subject, we know our limits and we take pleasure in the transfer of skills. The challenge is not to drift to a position of Unconscious / Competent evolving little by little towards a position of Unconscious / Incompetent. To avoid this drift, we must constantly stay awake in relation to what is done to be up to date and anticipate changes.
  4. Enfin, unconscious competence: A learning is really acquired only when it has become automatic. This is particularly the case of basic skills such as walking, talking … The disadvantage of this level of control is often that we are so unconscious of competence that we do not know how to transmit it.

The curve of oblivion

The German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus4 performs an experiment in 1885 by testing his own ability to retain a list of syllables with no particular meaning. It establishes the “Oblivion curve” according to which one hour after having learned a list of sounds, half is already forgotten.

In the end, after 3 days, he finds that he has forgotten 90% of what he has learned without any new solicitation of his memory and without immediate application of his new knowledge..


1 – I. Nonaka, H. Takeuchi (1996) – La connaissance créatrice

2 – A. Maslow (1940) – The four steps of learning

3 – J. Kruger, D. Dunning (1999) – Inskilled and unaware of it : how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self assessments

4 – Hermann Ebbinghaus (2011)  – La mémoire : recherches de psychologie expérimentale

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