As I have participated in a series of meetings/events related to diversity/gender parity during the past several days, the topic showed up finally in my dream last night! It is because of the pressure I have been under to confirm/complete my draft chapter on Japan (main topics women’s participation in labor market and re-skilling of elderly) and due to meetings on that topic with different groups.
It began with TEDxMarunouchiWomen last Saturday. I attended only the first segment as I had to spend all weekend to work on the draft chapter. I talked briefly with the Ambassador Radinck Van Vollenhoven of the Netherlands, the first speaker at the event and whom I have had privilege to have met a few times before. It was a very good and inspiring talk we had and he even sent me the information about the event on December 19 with their Political Director. They would like to have young Japanese women (students & professionals) who are willing to speak up in English. Here is the details.Dec19event
On Monday, this week, wed Gender Parity Task Force Advisory meeting of the World Economic Forum. It was good to find out what kind of activities/initiatives have been underway by different organizations and the government. I had to leave early as I had a class to teach at KMD, but it was a good meeting to share information and decide on next steps.
Yesterday, I was interviewed by the editor of the GEO magazine in Germany. Again the topic was gender/diversity and the growth strategy of Japan.
Judging from the series of meetings/events and the increased interest in the issue from the rest of the world, I think we DO have a momentum to move forward on this issue. This issue has been discussed and debated for almost two decades without much of a visible progress. We need to have both short-term plan and long-term plan to see some tangible results. It is very easy to be critical and/or skeptical about the new initiatives/policies as we have seen little progress for such a long time. And yet, unless we make the best of this momentum and interest shown by many, we can never accomplish. I am convinced that the time is now to make it happen.
Last week, Competitiveness Conference 2013 was held at Hitotsubashi Auditorium in Jinbocho. Every year, Porter Prize award ceremony is held, but this year, it is held under broader title of Competitiveness. (Porter Prize winners were featured in Part II).
In Part I, Prof. M. Porter gave a talk entitled “Can Japan compete? Revisited”. He reviewed the economic development of Japan in the last two decades. It was timely as many people throughout the world are interested in Abenomics and how it will evolve.
What caught my eye among the slides Prof.Porter showed was extremely low position of Japan in FDI. I found the new analysis of competitiveness of prefectures quite interesting, now that we often talk about the role of Mega-cities, rather than the nations. He also discussed the strategic agenda for companies and for the government for 2014. The list of strategic agenda for corporations and for the government was another interesting one.
Judging from the list, it seemed that we could do many more things to regain Japan’s competitiveness. Time is NOW!
As I concentrated so much on reviewing the edited draft and responding to inquiries, revising some parts,confirming references, and putting figures together, I almost forgot about the severe back pain. I now have a hard time even walking around, not to mention sitting down and standing up.
It is amazing how mental concentration could make you feel almost numb. Unfortunately, pain continues… But draft is done on my side!
December 8th,2013 Off time
I spent several hours yesterday and today, going over the edited version of my draft chapter. The editor of the whole book edited and came back with some inquiries. Document tracked with comment and revisions looked overwhelming. I spent few hours reviewing the changes made and identified some parts which required more thinking.
Inquiries and comments were very reasonable and I could manage with some effort. What turned out to be a bit overwhelming was the reference I used. As I tried to respond to inquiries, I noticed that some of the reference I used need to be updated, as we have latest figures etc.
Now I am almost finished with identifying where the discrepancies are, I can set out to make them clean and consistent. As my topic has been the hot issue this year, newer policies and data keep coming out. I need to be very patient and persistent to get them consistent and updated. Challenge, but not as overwhelming as the task many leaders face…
December 7th,2013 Learning
I went to three events yesterday–Competitiveness Conference 2013, 50th year-end party for economists hosted by Nikkei Shimbun and the Celebration party for Dr. Jun Murai and Dr.H. Ishida who are inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame.
There were some differences naturally among the three events. The first one focused on micro level of the Japanese economy, i.e. more focus on private sector though some recommendations for the government policies were made.
The second one focused on macroeconomic policies, (what else do you expect from economists!) and thus, the discussion was on the growth, stock market, etc. etc.
The third was more on technology, what role Internet has played and what’s for the future.
Despite these differences, there were some common threads cutting all three events. That is, all were dominated by men with a few women here and there. Age range was somewhat different, as the first one consisted of business people in the middle age, the second one of older generation, and the third more of younger generation. However, all you saw were men after men in dark suits!
I wonder if the scenery would be the same if this type of event is held overseas. What do you think?
December 6th,2013 Off time
I had three events for celebration today. The first was Competitiveness Conference 2013 where four companies were awarded Porter Prize 2013 in Part 2. (Other parts were very interesting, too, and I will write soon, as there were quite a few interesting insights.)
The second was the 50th anniversary of Nikkei year-end party for economists. As I write some column and articles for Nihon Keizai Shimbun, I am invited to this year-end event. I did not know it was the 50th anniversary, but there were many more people than other years, it seems. Prime Minister Abe came to give a brief speech, indicating his hope for even better economy next year. (In fact, Professor M. Porter who gave a talk and presented the Porter Prize earlier mentioned he would visit Prime Minister Abe after the event.)
The third was the celebration for induction of Dr.Jun Murai (and Dr. Haruhisa Ishida) into the Internet Hall of Fame. Dr. Murai is one of the people I respect most for his pioneering work, so I wanted to make sure that I go to the celebration. (I was rushed as I stayed until Prime Minister Abe finished his talk at the earlier party, but I made it to the ceremony for Dr.Murai.)
I am so delighted and happy for those who were awarded various prizes and honor. They deserve them and we want to show our appreciation for what they have done. Though it was quite hectic as I went from one event to another, it was all wonderful. It was such an inspiring day! (I will report each one in the next few days.)
Are you interested in Big Data? Data has been the hot topic these days, whether we discuss surveillance, data disclosure, use of our own data etc. We may not realize it, but we are sending incredible amount of data ourselves every second!
Do you want to find out what’s new about data? Do you want to discuss how we should balance the benefit/convenience we can receive by data analysis etc. and the security/privacy?
It is my understanding that the world today is evolving every second, offering great potential for us whether as customers of a variety of services and/or starting new business. At the same time, we are faced with the issues we have NOT experienced before, which could scare us.
Join us at #10 session of Davos Experience in Tokyo on Friday, December 13, to find out more about these issues and think about the value and implications of Big Data and Analytics. Check our website for details, vote yes or no to the question “Will Big Data change our society?” and make your comments. Register either real or online for the event on December 13. We will be looking forward to seeing you in 10 days!
On Sunday, December 1, I went to the Nikkei Womanomics Christmas party. I have been involved with this initiative as one of the supporters. I served as moderator at Nikkei’s Skill Development Seminar in June and also at the Woman Initiative Forum 2013 in September.
I was happy to be invited to this event. Though I missed the Part 1 where Yukako Uchinaga of J-Win and Satsuki Katayama, Honorable member of the House of Councillors made keynote speech, I just made it to Part 2-Christmas Party.
I had expected more supporters would be there, but I was one of the few. The party was very lively and festive with some 300 powerful ladies! (I hear it was limited to ladies,only!) The mini-live concert and lots of drinks and food were served. (As I had to cook dinner for my Dad that night, I had to force myself staying sober and hungry!)
Towards the end, I was asked to make a short remark. I discussed my recent activities to develop individual skills (busy days let us forget how important to renew our skills and knowledge) and two types of being different–different from others (i.e. being unique) and different from oneself the day before.
I ended my talk, encouraging ladies there to have good food and drinks and to try something new the next day. After my brief talk, several people came up and we exchanged name cards. I left with a gift of cake and samples I have been using since then! It was fun evening!
I have written and talked many times about the importance of time. It may be partly because I find myself getting impatient year after year. I get quite annoyed when people do not get to work fast when somethings needs to be done, when things do not start as we schedule, and when the topic has been discussed/deliberated well.
Importance of time is well understood, but what is important is NOT only the speed or time to do something, BUT ALSO when to move fast and when to take time. You may want to ask yourself how you utilize your time. You can also ask people what they want to do when they have free time.
We hear “Time is money.” How you spend time may make you rich if you are very productive and quick in thought and action. Time could be very valuable if you know when you know when you relax and take it easy. Are you satisfied with the way you handle time?
This past week, I conducted executive ed. seminar three times in Japan. One of them was for the specific company, while the other two were for the group of executives from various companies.
There were some common threads through the topics, as participants were all interested what business should do in the inter-connected world where competition is increasingly globalized and innovation stays as a key lever.
I have a few main messages regarding this topic and yet, for each one of the groups, I try to make my talk more relevant to them and/or updated with the recent examples and experiences. I also change the questions I ask them, to engaged them.
I see quite interesting reactions from different groups. Some groups/companies get engaged very quickly, while others I have to try so hard to get them engaged. There are also differences by the industries and lines of business. I try to get the sense of expectations of the participants from the list right before the seminar.
When the participants are all Japanese, few questions are asked in many cases and I have to try hard to get them ask questions. On the other hand, non-Japanese groups tend to ask so many questions earlier in the session and often my original plan for the talk goes out of the window. I love Q & A and interactive style of discussion, so when I end up doing all interactive discussion to respond and elaborate on the questions asked, I even prefer that format.
Sometimes the questions asked stick to me for a long time after the program and it keeps coming back to me. That is when I feel questions/inquisitive mind is one of the best sources of new ideas and deep thinking.