Knowledge-Based Strategy - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Knowledge-Based Strategy

Course Number 1215

Professor of Management Practice Hirotaka Takeuchi
Winter; Q4; 1.5 credits
14 Sessions

The course takes a distinctive view of strategy:

  • Strategy is not created by an objective and rationalistic process, but through a subjective process driven by human beings
  • Strategy is not formulated by analysis based on universal rules, but by practice based on particular contexts in the real world

The course also takes a distinctive view of knowledge:

  • Knowledge resides in the “head” and “hand” of every individual
  • The “head” part emphasized in the West is equivalent to analytical knowledge
  • The “hand” part emphasized in the course is derived from the five senses, experience, intuition or hunch, gut feel, sense of purpose, beliefs, values or ideals
  • Continuous interaction of the two types of knowledge create new knowledge, which becomes the source of sustainable innovation
  • Individual knowledge is converted to organizational and community knowledge through knowledge development tools such as waigaya (practiced by Honda), camp-in (Samsung), whispering (Steve Jobs), dialectics (Tadashi Yanai of UNIQLO), yukta (Tata), ba (Canon), local growth teams (GE), and others

The educational objective of the course is to make you realize that becoming a better strategist (and human being) requires you to be all of the following:

  • a philanthropist willing to do what you believe is right and good
  • an artisan who understands the “here and now” issues at hand and act just in time
  • a philosopher who sees the essence and reconstructs particulars to universals
  • a novelist who can use metaphors and stories as part of your rhetoric
  • a politician who can mobilize others and spur them into action
  • a teacher with values and principles whom others want to exemplify


  • Frequent visitors who serve as your role models
  • Case-based discussions where East meets West
  • Group exercises during class time
  • Paper