The Japanese philosophy of Kaizen, or continuous improvements, has been accepted and adopted all around the world. A central concept in kaizen which is extremely well-known in Japan, but somewhat less acknowledged in Europe and the U.S. is mieruka (見える化), which means visualization or visual control. Mieruka is a central component in the shopfloor practices that have undergone Kaizen. In Annual reports of Japanese companies, for example Toyota, mieruka practices are brought forth. Being part of a management philosophy, mieruka is said to lead to fast problem identification, increased efficiency, and organizational knowledge sharing.
Playing just a little with words, and entering into opposition to mieruka, we will launch the concept satoruka (悟り化). Satoru, or the noun satori is based in Buddhist thinking meaning enlightenment. Satoruka means a process, or moment, of transition to enlightenment (ka means change, or transition), in other words to become enlightened.
In our paper, we intend to explain what satoruka is and how it can be understood to understand organizations. The major consequence as we see it is to counter the functionalist and practitioner-oriented semantic space in which mieruka is situated. This might sound counter-intuitive to a "Western" audience, but indeed enlightenment (and other concepts such as Truth) in Buddhist thinking is not related to the Enlightenment movement in the West. Enlightenment should therefore not be seen as a way of reaching some kind of objective, quantifiable, truth, but about reaching a state of true understanding. In the Japanese lexicon Kojien, satori is explained as "to understand things clearly" or "to transcend the heart's doubts and gain mastery of the mind". Satori has not only been used for Buddhist enlightenment, but also in other well-known philosophico-cultural movements in Japan, for example in Bushido, where it does not only mean the "functional" or "practitioner-oriented" aspects of "slashing and chopping", but rather to understand the true meaning of the "way" of the sword and the true nature of things by becoming one with nature. Once again, remember that the meaning of "truth" radically differs from Western conceptions of truth.
In this paper, we will discuss satoruka, its relation to the traditional concept of satori, and show how it is relevant to the study of organizations (especially we will explore the relevance for the community based view on organizations, which we draw on) and in what context satoruka might arise.