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Last night I was given an opportunity to talk at the  EIJS Academic Seminar. It was held at Swedish Embassy on the rainy and cold night. I was delighted to meet with my old friends from Europe (I had quite a few whom I had not met for years!) and meet with new people.

The title of my talk was “Strategic Shift: Can Japanese companies do it?”   I discussed the need for the strategic shift for the Japanese companies and my own view of the possible ways to do so.  Though I had planned to have more interactive session, I ended up talking for an hour or so, followed by Q & A.

During the first half, most of the questions were from those business people (i.e. mature), non Japanese..  In the latter half, I started getting questions from the young Japanese, some of whom students. All the questions were great (I love Q & A), though I felt that I could have handled some of them better. (Always lessons learned!)

I always enjoy this type of opportunity, as I myself learn a lot from the interaction.  I felt that I could have talked a bit more slowly (when I feel I have a lot to say AND when I am nervous, I tend to speak too fast) and also should have emphasized more on Action and the evolving nature of career.

It seemed that the young people think that once they decide to do something (such as joining the company, going abroad for study, etc.), they cannot change the course.  I think the life is a journey in which we can steer our course, change our course, bump into something unexpectedly and start again, but NOT the set course to go directly to the “perfect” life.  What makes life interesting is the uncertain, unexpected nature of it (though it is painful sometimes) and the tremendous opportunity to navigate yourself.  It is a journey  you plan, and not the package tour fixed by somebody else.

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  • Comments (6)

  1. Dear Ishikura-san,

    thank you for your inspiring talk. I reflected upon the Q&A session and feel that there are a few gaps to close. Actually, sometimes change is initiated by economic necessity but so far Japan has been able to avoid that. If you look at Korea or China, the leadership has aggressive goals to improve International competitiveness and grow their export related industries.

    But change from the top is not enough. The families (especially the mothers) are very competitive to prepare their children for the global marketplace (Studying abroad, being exposed to a variety of artistic skills, learning English from Kindergarten, etc.)

    The main point that I would like to make is if there is no pressure from the citizen to change, leadership will be comfortable to keep the status quo. Changing the status quo may mean loss of face and loss of power. One could ask if there is any readiness or urgency for change ?

    • Hiroshi Hatano
    • March 27th, 2010

    Dr. Donella H. Meadows (Ph.D. in biophysics, Harvard University), the founder of the Sustainability Institute said that life is a misterious journey. It is absolutely true. In addition, my favorite Peter F. Drucker said that the best way to predict the future is invent it. There are some hopes that the “young” are brave enough to tackle with social agenda as a social entreprenuer today. They will run it, encounter some misteries, but keep inventing. I would like to be one of them, if not, enpower them.

    Well, there is a great academic innovation in Tokyo, which is ICS created by the “young” and couragious people.

  2. I just wanted to thank you for your interesting and inspiring speach! I am now following your blog which I enjoy very much. Next time you will have a speach that is open to the public, please mention it on your blog so I can come and listnen.

    Best wishes
    My Persson

    • yishikura
    • April 24th, 2010

    Dear Philipp, this is Yoko Ishikura, Thanks so much for your comment. My apology for late response. I do agree that it has to come from the people. I am now trying to figure out whether there is any way I can convince parents (particularly, mothers) of the young generation that the world is inter-connected. (They have big influence on decisions made by the young generation.)

    • yishikura
    • April 24th, 2010

    Hi Hiroshi, thanks for your comment as always. Yes, I trust there are young people who are willing to take risks etc. As long as they have support from us, they can create the new future.

    • yishikura
    • April 24th, 2010

    Dear My Persson, this is Yoko Ishikura. Thanks for your kind words. I will make sure that I announce on my blog about the seminars that are open to public.

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