Playing with Chigo blocks

Now this is something I’m really excited about! Lately I’ve been playing with Chigo blocks I bought during my last trip to Tokyo and they look something like this:

They look really cute and exciting, no? But I guess one has to ask “what does a business school PhD student do with them?. The answer is simple: you can use them in many ways in your research and currently I’m experimenting with them on a study dealing with visual metaphors. Drawing on scholars such as Morgan and Lakoff & Johnson who have been investigating the intersection between metaphors and organizations. Also, Nonaka has been utilizing metaphors in his theory of the knowledge-creating firms, arguing that we make sense of our world through metaphors. Thus, metaphors can be seen as ways to construct reality and to create explicit out of tacit.

I’m still collecting data for a piece I’m about to write, but the core idea is this:

Given that organizations are something we do, create, talk about, understand and so forth, how come research has only focused on oral and written metaphors?

Thus, my argument is that when we ask people to talk about their organizations, we lose the tactile dimension that is often difficult to verbalize. Instead of ‘forcing’ people to use only words to talk about their organization, I’ve been using Chigo blocks to ask my colleagues to construct our group by using those blocks. So far the results seem interesting, but I still need to answer the crucial “So what?” question. “You asked your colleagues to play with wooden blocks – so what?”. If you can help me out, please do!

My working hypothesis at this stage is that these blocks enable me to combine Alexander’s Pattern Language with Nonaka’s knowledge-creation theory, but let’s see whether that assumption holds also after my data collection!

Ps. I’ve also been thinking about how to integrate Chigo blocks to Osterwalder’s work on business models, so all comments, suggestions, questions in that field are also welcome!

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