Opinion Piece: Unpacking the confusing context of open innovation
Miki Takashima, Osaka, Japan
December 3, 2022
Food For Thought - Unpacking the confusing context of open innovation + co-creation goals of Kansai
In this article, I explore the questions of innovation and potential growth within the context of Japanese history, culture, unique to the Kansai region of Japan.
I welcome and would be grateful for any inputs, comments, feedback, jokes - all contributions to this open ended mind-piece as to encourage developments for the open innovation community in Japan and beyond.
What is growth? How do you measure growth? How are partnerships and collaborations being formed (or not formed)?
Hot topics within the Kansai region of Japan in regards to the open innovation space is often quite unique and different from what you find in Tokyo, and discussions most likely feels closed and rather ambiguous for those who are not local to the ecosystem given its distinct flavor of regional pride and history.
I find it so curious and interesting as I float between the distinctly "super Japanese" corporate side of the conversation versus the "gaikokujin"or foreigners' sharp opinions and vivid arguments which often prioritize efficiency and straightforward honesty.
Perhaps I am one of the very few that will take the time to put "pen-to-paper" in this sense, as I come from an optimistic, objective perspective, wanting to somehow serve this community. I wonder - is it possible to land on "a goal" of developing an inclusive society where new thoughts can be freely shared and trial & error is encouraged...??
I attribute this angle of thought to my self-identity despite spending most of my youth in Tokyo; the majority of my classmates were non-Japanese and this brought diversity as common place to the table. Inclusion, is another topic to unpack with a 3 hour meal and lots of wine or whiskey (please laugh here). I don't necessarily prefer to use the keyword "3rd culture kid" however.
Yes, Japan definitely is conservative in the sense of "sakoku 鎖国" as we are an island nation, and the cultural dynamics of "uchi + soto 内と外" are always going to have an influence on even the tiniest transactions of daily life, business included. And now that "work" can be considered a fluid concept due to remote working environments and how one picks their lifestyle, can personal vs. business stay separate?
The famous movie quote from The Godfather "It's not personal, it's strictly business" comes to mind, although I heard that expression in You've Got Mail. Remember AOL?
When it comes down to it, my perspective is that until now, Japan typically has gone through many positive transformations given the mix of dynamic exterior pressures and a national identity crisis that comes from within.
With shining eyes on the global stage of sustainability, climate change and other significant discussions of accelerating problem solving, my hope is that holistic thinking and framework building takes place -- much to align with a HBR article I came upon while researching engineering insight teams and effectively managing an insights engine.
What is data (big or small in scale) if it cannot be put to practical use?
The key takeaway here was the whole-brain mindset -- how a culture can break from the past (given that it wants growth) and the necessity to think creatively. However, without a structured support system (typically the role of government or large private corporations), SMEs in Japan may not be able to contribute effectively; hence said creativity can lack in this space. Ahh. The chicken and egg discussion continues.
Furthermore, what is creativity?
For an insights engine to be collaborative, experimental, and so on, it needs a culture that breaks from the past. Historically, the members of insights organizations focused on analytics. That left-brain orientation served them well, but today’s insights teams must think holistically, exercising creative, right-brain skills as well.
Again, I welcome any inputs, questions, feedback, tidbits to facilitate more active discussions in this space for everyone's benefit. Thank you, Arigato, Gracias, Xiexie.
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