The transformation of the workplace is getting big on the agenda of the Japanese business community. Recent economic as well as social turbulences have brought unprecedented threats to the Japanese workplace. This is part of a global trend and the beginning of fundamental changes in the Japanese system which used to be predicated on lifetime employment, collectivism, and seniority-based wages. In this context, the Japanese concept of ba (place or placeness) – a traditional socio-cultural asset of Japanese organizations – is the key to understanding the past and the future of the workplace. Whether Japanese firms can remember and activate their ba or not will be critical. The "happy workplace" is not about fun and amusement, but about management and leadership to seek satisfaction at the workplace, and the good of society. The happy workplace is a ba that fosters knowledge creation and innovation in the organization.
Noboru Konno is President of KIRO (Knowledge Innovation Research Office) and Professor at Tama Graduate School of Management and Information Science, director of the Institute of Knowledge Leadership Studies (IKLS). Ph.D. (Management Information Science). He has been involved in many consulting projects for knowledge industries, knowledge management and design strategy, as a pioneer of these fields. His recent studies and projects include workplace for knowledge creation (concept of “ba”). His books include: Methodology of Knowledge Creation (co-author, 2003,Toyo Keizai), Knowledge Design Company (2008, Nikkei) and others.