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  The article based upon the interview I had several weeks ago is now available online. The main topic was healthcare (the cover story) and I discussed the role of innovation in this sector. 

   It was quite an interesting process, as the interview itself was done in Japanese, written in Japanese first (I had to revise/add some to make it readable first in Japanese), then the whole thing was translated into English. I then revised/added English version so that the message I wanted to convey was written in English (followed by the editing by the professional editor to make it “proper” English).  Here is the link to the issue and my interview article is here.japan-journal.pdf

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  • Comments (4)

  1. Dear Yoko Ishikura,

    I have just finished reading your article and it was immensely interesting to read about the “triangle” Japan-Health Care-Innovation. I live in Hungary, but I have been to Tokyo, Japan and I was astonished by the presense of state-of-art hi-tech. This made me think that Japan is doing very well when it comes to innovation.

    My question would be whether there is sufficient number of people who know how to bring a new innovative idea to the market? We all know that for a successful innovation the following things are needed: a very good idea, money to finance the introduction to the market, and managers who understand how to introduce the product to the market. I think the so-called start-up company specified managers are different from the mainstream managers. Is this issue solved in Japan?

    Kind regards,
    Gazdag, Gergely

    • yishikura
    • October 22nd, 2008

    Dear Gergely(I hope this is the right way to address you?), thanks for your comment.

    Yes, the challenge often stays with the commercialization of new ideas. For that, we need good(i.e. in terms of timing, frequency, amount etc. that fits the type of innovation), and people.

    People are the key to bringing ideas to the market. I do NOT think we resolved the issue, and that is precisely what we are trying to do now.

  2. Dear Yoko,

    Thank you for your reply. I intentionally write my name in this form, because the Hungarians put their family name first and given name second, but in English it is the other way round — except if you put a comma after your name. As far as I know the Japanese names have the same name order as in Hungary. Nice coincidence.

    Sorry for this off topic. In Hungary, some experts in the “innovation industry” say that the main problem is with the insufficient number of innovation managers. In Hungarian universities students are taught to be great economists and managers in multinational companies. I also experience that strategic management education is a weakness. This is a problem, because venture capitalists will not want to invest in any start-up company without good business plan, strategy, risk-management scenarios etc. And there are some experienced management consultants who can help, but if education does not get a good start for professional “entrepreneurial mindset” — that will cause a kind of bottleneck in my opinion. I think that ICS is different because there are many (ex) management consultants — a really great idea to pair it with innovation, too.

    Is the government in Japan supports innovation by any means? I am just asking out of curiosity.

    One more question: if your students are given a business case, what do you advise them? What seems to help them most? Back in the McKinsey years, what kind of mindset was needed?

    I have bookmarked this blog for its excellence and for its great thought. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Kind regards,
    Gazdag, Gergely

    • yishikura
    • October 28th, 2008

    Hi, Gergely, thanks for your comment again and the info.about the name in Hungary. I always get a bit confused and get a bit nervous as I do not want to address the person in the wrong way!

    Regarding the entrepreneurial mindset, I am not quite sure whether it is something you can develop or not. i.e. If you have no mindset to take risks and try something new,it may be a bit difficult to encourage people to start a new business. At the same time, though, you can unleash their potential to take risks.

    Regarding your question about the government encouraging innovation, my response is yes and no. They are quite concerned, and have tried several things (you can take a look at my speech at Stanford in May), but how effective they have been is a big question.

    About the business case, I encourage them (and myself) to spend some time to figure out the problem itself, rather than jump to some ready-made problem definition and jump to the conclusion. For that, you need to look at the phenomenon from multiple perspectives and with facts.

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