Learning Trilogy

Trilogy Model of Knowledge Creation

This is the knowledge creation model i propose, which describes how Knowledge Creation Process must Occur in the classroom.The TRILOGY MODEL is the result of the integration of the models by John Boyd (OODA Loop), Nonaka (SECI Model) and the Oinas-Kukkonnen Model as described in his paper entitled 7C Model of the Knowledge Creation Process.


Not much is understood on how knowledge is created in organizations, nor of how the knowledge creation process can be managed (Tsoukas& Mylonopoulos, 2004).  However, some tend to believe that a single model devised to work on Knowledge creation is enough to work on all situations similar to theorems developed in mathematics. These perception is not only deeply flawed but also a disconnect in understanding and respect on the fluidity and dynamism of human learning.

Knowledge is regarded as important for creating organizational value and enhancing organizational competitiveness, especially in an unpredictable environment (Nonaka, 1994). Same is very true for learning organizations, in this day and age knowledge is the key to success of the individual, organization and even the nation as a whole. Thus it is imperative that learning organizations must not only have a deep understanding of knowledge construction but also spearheads its understanding adapted for the changing times.

Today, in the age of knowledge economy, the academe is left behind by the globalized industries and the military organization that is deeply dependent on the efficiency of logistics, innovation of processes, products and services and technology in spearheading understanding on the newest school of thought which is knowledge management. As always had been in the past, the role of the academe is to pick on the success of these organizations, analyze and adapt it to academic practices such that future workers will be able to continue and improve on what had been developed in the past.

The focus is to understand  the three models of Knowledge Management developed from three different sectors of society at different time. The OODA Loop (for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) a concept applied to the combat operations process, often at tactical, operational tactical and grand strategic level in the military that is also adopted today by commercial operations. It was created by military strategist and US AirForce Colonel John Boyd in the 60’s. The SECI Model (Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Internalization) model developed in 1991 by Professor Ikujiro Nonaka of Japan Institute of Science and Technology and the Organizational Knowledge Creation and Management Framework proposed in 2004 by Harri Oinas-Kukkonen of the University of Oulu, Finland and Stanford University, USA.

The goal is to propose a conceptual model for knowledge creation, which is tailored for classroom applications based on the concepts and theories of these Knowledge Management Models.

One of the reasons why there should be a dedicated model of knowledge creation process for classroom application is that, first and foremost the models we are using such, as the SECI Model were specifically developed for a business  (like) type organizations.

While both can be considered a learning organization. The classroom learning is largely different when compared to workplace learning.

For one, unlike in the workplace environment. Students have their mind set that when they go to school they expect to learn. They carry their textbooks, notebooks, calculators, and other school materials. And perhaps have done their homework already before going to school.

In school they expect to meet with professors or teachers to impart to them the knowledge on different subjects. The students are motivated by the grades they earn from doing good in school.

This makes the students oriented to learn, because that is what they already expect before going to school.

In the workplace environment, people have the mindset to perform their jobs and earn a living. They expect to work and not learn the way they did back in school. That is why they don’t carry textbooks, notebooks, calculators and other learning paraphernalia’s and they don’t expect professors or teachers to lecture them on different subjects.

Workers are oriented to work, that is why in order to make the workplace environment a learning organization, the Orientation or Externalization was included in the knowledge creation process in order to squeeze new ideas out of the workplace. This is what differentiates the new model to the S.E.C.I. model that is popular in the business organizations and the academic world today

The new Trilogy Model of knowledge creation process is composed of three processes the learner must undergo before he can develop and demonstrate his new knowledge. These are the Observation and Orientation, Adaptation and Absorption, and Manifestation and Substantiation.


Trilogy Model of Knowledge Creation

Similar to the theory of Nonaka, the Trilogy Model observes the flow of the tacit knowledge of the learner but it is only confined at the early stage of the process, wherein the learner converts the tacit knowledge in explicit knowledge after the knowledge had been reconciled by the learner, and the new one begins to emerge as a product of the learners Observation and Orientation.

Observation and Orientation



This is the first phase in the trilogy model. At this stage the learner simply observes the external variables around him such as new information as a result of interactions with the other learners around him and orients himself towards that new information resulting from interactions with various learners. Learners with different skills and backgrounds should collaborate in tasks and discussions in order to arrive at a shared understanding of the truth in a specific field (Duffy and Jonassen 1992).


This is the time when the learner analyzes information and compares it with his own, and synthesizes this gathered information.  The learner reconciles his  previous knowledge to the new one coming in through interaction, and synthesize the new knowledge  created. However the new knowledge at this stage remains to be a tacit knowledge albeit a new one already. This phase is critical in the knowledge creation, because this stage deals with the what, where, when and how’s in the learners mind. The new information’s gathered through interaction between the learners are tacit knowledge. After this stage, the learner is now ready to transfer that tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge.

Adaptation and Absorption


After the learner has completed the first phase, the learner at this point will adapt the information’s gathered from the first phase as his own and begins to concretize the information’s gathered and create new knowledge thereby turning the new tacit knowledge derived from observation and orientation into explicit knowledge.


The learner adapts this new explicit knowledge as a part of his experience, the learner at this time is still in the process of absorbing this new tacit-explicit knowledge. The learners reflection is an important element in Adaptation and Absorption, since the learner would have to make a conscious mental and purposive process relying on thinking, reasoning, and examining one’s own thoughts and feelings. And internalizes the new knowledge that was a product of the learners collaborative effort and cooperation.

The process of knowledge creation is not yet complete at this stage, in fact it is only half way through because the learner was just able to understand and create new knowledge but have not yet demonstrated such. As emphasized by Nonaka, unless the learners can make new strategies, plan for action and practice new skills, the learners haven’t learned yet.

Manifestation and Substantiation


This is the last stage in the Trilogy Model of knowledge creation, at this phase the learner is now capable of demonstrating his learning, complete with facts and evidences to support the new knowledge and prepared to defend the new knowledge against questions coming from other learners and the teacher. Because the new knowledge will not be considered as new knowledge if the learners who created it cannot manifest their learning and substantiate it by providing facts and evidences to support the claim, unless the learners can perform such they are only able to create a new idea short of knowledge.

All of these phases are part of the spiral process that revolves around the collective intelligence of the individuals, the group and the entire classroom. Meaning knowledge creation is a product of collaboration and cooperation on the part of the learners and the facilitation of the teacher.

This type of learning follow the Social constructivist view of learning as an active process where learners should learn to discover principles, concepts and facts for themselves, hence the importance of encouraging guesswork and intuitive thinking in learners (Brown et al.1989; Ackerman 1996).

The role of the teacher is only to facilitate learning. A further characteristic of the role of the facilitator in the social constructivist viewpoint, is that the instructor and the learners are equally involved in learning from each other as well (Holt and Willard-Holt 2000). And the learners are active and co-creator of knowledge.



John Boyd emphasized that learning is a product of decision making process within the mind of the person, thus understanding this process and creating a shorter and better way to create learning must be the main focus in order for the organization to ensure that learners will be able to demonstrate his learning at the fastest rate possible and gain advantage against the enemy, in our case the enemy is the time.

According to John Boyd, this decision making process within the person’s mind can be classified into a Process Loop. This means that a human being can learn and come up with his best decision using a single Process Loop. He called this as OODA Loop, which is derived from, Observe, Orient, Decide and Act Process Loop.

boyd's ooda loop


John Boyd Theory contends that the very first step to this process is for the person to observe variables around him. These variables can be events and information’s that the person takes notice around him and noting it in order to preposition his thinking to the next phase of the process which orientation.


After taking notice of the various information’s around him, the learner now positions himself by taking into account his own previous knowledge, cultures and traditions and the new information. He now analyzes the new information versus his own previous knowledge and connecting it to one another through synthesis. This is the phase where the learner understands what is going on around him. At this point, the learner hasn’t created new knowledge yet but readies himself for the next phase of the process which is to decide.


At this point, the learner has gained significant level of understanding regarding the new information around him, he now likewise understands what’s going on and prepares himself to adapt towards the new situation. So, his next step is to decide based on his new experience if he is going to make the new experience a part of his new knowledge. Should the learner decides to neglect the new experience, as shown in the diagram, his next process is to go back into the observation phase and restart the process. If the learner accepts the new experience as a part of his new knowledge the learner is now prepared to demonstrate his new learning to the learner’s environment.


According to Professor Ikujiro Nonaka, knowledge creation is a spiraling process of interactions between explicit and tacit knowledge. The interactions between the explicit and tacit knowledge lead to the creation of new knowledge. The combination of the two categories makes it possible to conceptualize four conversion patterns.

Nonaka also suggests different ‘Ba‘s which facilitate the knowledge conversion for his SECI Knowledge creation model.

The four conversion patterns of knowledge are illustrated in diagram:

seci model

Trilogy Model of Knowledge Creation


This mode enables the conversion of tacit knowledge through interaction between individuals. One important point to note here is that an individual can acquire tacit knowledge without language. Apprentices work with their mentors and learn craftsmanship not through language but by observation, imitation and practice. In a business setting, on job training (OJT) uses the same principle. The key to acquiring tacit knowledge is experience. Without some form of shared experience, it is extremely difficult for people to share each other’ thinking process.

The tacit knowledge is exchanged through join activities – such as being together, spending time, living in the same environment – rather than through written or verbal instructions.

In practice, socialization involves capturing knowledge through physical proximity. The process of acquiring knowledge is largely supported through direct interaction with people.


Externalization requires the expression of tacit knowledge and its translation into comprehensible forms that can be understood by others. In philosophical terms, the individual transcends the inner and outer boundaries of the self. During the externalization stage of the knowledge-creation process, and individual commits to the group and thus becomes one with the group. The sum of the individuals’ intentions and ideas fuse and become integrated with the group’s mental world.

In practice, externalization is supported by two key factors.

  • First, the articulation of tacit knowledge—that is, the conversion of tacit into explicit knowledge –involves techniques that help to express one’s ideas’ or images as words, concepts, figurative language (such as metaphors, analogies or narratives) and visuals. Dialogues, “listening and contributing to the benefit of all participants,” strongly support externalization.
  • The second factor involves translating the tacit knowledge of people into readily understandable forms. This may require deductive/inductive reasoning or creative inference (abduction).


Combination involves the conversion of explicit knowledge into more complex sets of explicit knowledge. In this stage, the key issues are communication and diffusion processes and the systematization of knowledge. Here, new knowledge generate in theexternalization stage transcends the ground in analogues or digital signals.

In practice, the combination phase relies on three processes.

  • Capturing and integrating new explicit knowledge is essential. This might involve collecting externalized knowledge (e.g. public data) from inside or outside the company and the combining such data.
  • Second, the dissemination of explicit knowledge is based on the process of transferring this form of knowledge directly by using presentations or meeting. Here new knowledge is spread among the organizational members.
  • Third, the editing or processing of explicit knowledge makes it more usable (e.g. documents such as plans, report, market data).

In the combination process,justification – the basis for agreement – takes place and allows the organization to take practical concrete steps.

The knowledge conversion involves the process of social processes to combine different bodies of explicit knowledge held by individuals. The reconfiguring of existing information through the sorting, adding, re-categorizing and re-contextualizing of explicit knowledge can lead to new knowledge. This process of creating explicit knowledge from explicit knowledge is referred to as combination.


The internalization of newly created knowledge is the conversion of explicit knowledge into the organization’s tacit knowledge. This requires the individual to identify the knowledge relevant for one’s self within the organizational knowledge. That again requires finding one’s self in a larger entity. Learning by doing, training and exercises allow the individual to access the knowledge realm of the group and the entire organization.

In practice, internalization relies on two dimensions:

  • First, explicit knowledge has to be embodied in action and practice. Thus, the process of internalizing explicit knowledge actualizes concepts or methods about strategy, tactics, innovation or improvement. For example, training programs in larger organizations help the trainees to understand the organization and themselves in the whole.
  • Second, there is a process of embodying the explicit knowledge by using simulations or experiments to trigger learning by doing processes. New concepts or methods can thus be learned in virtual situation.

ooda-seci integration

Organizational Knowledge Creation and Management Framework

According to Harri Oinas-Kukkonen, there are four phases or sub-processes in the knowledge creation process as shown in the Model below.

kukkonen model


The author contends that learning begins with comprehension. He defined it as a process of surveying and interacting with the external environment, integrating the resulting intelligence with other project knowledge on an ongoing basis in order to identify problems, needs and opportunities; embodying explicit knowledge in tacit knowledge, “learning by doing”, re-experiencing.

At this stage, the learner surveys the environment around him and interacts with it internally.


The Oinas-Kukkonen Model says that, communication is a process of sharing experiences between people and thereby creating tacit knowledge in the form of mental models and technical skills; produces dialog records, which emphasize the needs and opportunities, integrating the dialog along with resulting decisions with other project knowledge on an ongoing basis.

At this stage, the learner gains new information through communication with other people this result to the creation of the tacit knowledge that is now shared by the people around the learner.


According to the Oinas-Kukkonen Model, conceptualization is a collective reflection process articulating tacit knowledge to form explicit concepts and systemizing the concepts into a knowledge system; produces knowledge products of a project team, which form a more or less comprehensive picture of the project in hand and are iteratively and collaboratively developed; may include proposals, specifications, descriptions, work breakdown structures, milestones, timelines, staffing, facility requirements, budgets, etc.; rarely a one-shot effort.

In other words, the learners now create their own product thereby converting their developed tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge. The learners can effectively concretize their understanding in a piece of paper or project.


With the new explicit knowledge, the learners are now ready to work together into putting their conceptualized information’s together using teamwork and demonstrate the new knowledge they have successfully created. All of these revolves around and is a product of collective intelligence of all the learners involved.

ooda-seci-kukkonen model

Trilogy Model Integration

total integration of old and new models



Teaching and Learning Principles



Ikujiro Nonaka, Noboru Konno, The concept of “Ba’: Building foundation for Knowledge Creation. California Management Review Vol 40, No.3 Spring 1998.


OODA Loop Model



Knowledge Creation Framework



9 thoughts on “Learning Trilogy

  1. massotte says:

    Interesting synthesis.
    What about works conducted by Umeda and Gaines/norrie ?
    May be could you detail a little bit more the matter around “knowledge systematization”.
    Indeed, this is a consequence of your afore mentioned concepts.
    Thanks a lot. Pierre

  2. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting idea here. Workplace learning is really different from classroom one, do you think Gagne’s model in itself is also a knowledge creation model? Best regards, Kasper

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