BreakThrough Study Idea

Creating value by reviewing and combining your own company's "strengths"Dr. Satoshi Nagashima

<Series 3(Total 4 series)>

2020.04.16

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Satoshi Nagashima (Managing Partner Japan, Roland Berger Ltd. *The present post : Global Innovation Officer)


Business collaboration is one promising way to improve "creative productivity," which increases productivity by heightening the value of your company's products and services. What should SMEs do to improve creative productivity? This article introduces specific examples at certain corporations, while also featuring an explanation of Japanese-style open innovation promoted by Satoshi Nagashima, Managing Partner at the global consulting firm Roland Berger Ltd.(*The present post : Global Innovation Officer)


Creating innovation through the Japanese spirit, dialogue, and circle of compatriots

New value can be created even more quickly by combining the "strengths" of Japanese SMEs--. This idea is espoused by Nagashima, who has started "Wannovation" at Roland Berger as a way of creating new value. Wannovation is Japanese-style innovation which seeks to create new value by increasing "creative productivity" based on wa, which is the root of the Japanese words for Japanese spirit, dialogue, and circle of compatriots.

"In Wannovation, 'wa' refers to visualizing and combining technology, know-how, wisdom, and other tacit knowledge possessed by Japanese companies. Using 'what is available' at each company makes it possible to utilize the deep commitments of each company. With that as a basis, we engage in dialogue across different departments, corporations, and industries, thus heightening value by expanding the circle of compatriots who share our aspirations."

Combining "what is available" at each company to quickly develop a compact EV

In just four months of development, ten companies* participating in Wannovation developed the "Butler Car", a two-seater compact EV which runs at approximately 10 km/h and can be remotely controlled. This compact EV attracted a great deal of attention at the Tokyo Motor Show 2019. It is expected to be used in a variety of situations, such as new towns with long distances between train stations and tourist attractions, and mountainous areas with many steep roads.

"During the development process, I described the idea of a 'moving space for comfortable transportation of VIPs at location such as high-class hotels, ceremonial halls, and shrines and temples.' 'GK Kyoto Inc.,' a participating company involved in design, created a sketch which visualized the concept. From this single sketch, the project accelerated rapidly. Since then, work has proceeded quickly by combining the 'things which are available' at each company."
* Companies participating in the Butler Car Project: Core Concept Technologies Co., Ltd., GK Kyoto Inc., Shinmei Industry Co., Ltd., Hamano Products Co., Ltd., Harada Vehicle Design Co., Ltd., Futaba Kagu Co., Ltd., Beckhoff Automation Co., Ltd., Maris Creative Design Co., Ltd., MIRAI-LABO Co., Ltd., LAC Co., Ltd.

"Butler Car," a compact EV developed through collaboration by ten corporations participating in "Wannovation"

Reviewing "what is available" at your company and escaping risk

On the other hand, as a practical example of improving creative productivity at individual corporations, Nagashima first mentioned "Yuki Precision Co., Ltd.," a manufacturer with about 40 employees. Yuki Precision has mass-produced electric and electronic screws since its establishment in 1950. However, it suffered a serious decline in orders following the Lehman Shock. After inheriting his family's business immediately after the Lehman Shock, the current president of Yuki Precision established a development department, redefined the company's strengths, and cultivated more than 100 new partner corporations.

"Based on a survey of its business partners, Yuki Precision confirmed its greatest strengths are the quality and reliability of precision processing. The company entered fields related to aerospace and medical equipment and found new success. Afterwards, Yuki Precision established a holding company and expanded its business through transactions such as M&As. It also helped to invigorate Japan through participation in 'Wannovation.'"

Another example company is "Ishikawa Wire Netting Co., Ltd.," a manufacturer which specializes in wire netting and has about 30 employees. In response to a decrease in orders following the Lehman Shock, Ishikawa Wire Netting searched for new uses for its technology of wire netting. This led to the company developing "Oriami," a type of origami paper made of flexible wire mesh resembling cloth. Oriami was completed after about three years of development under the guidance and supervision of origami artists and the Nippon Origami Association. Oriami has attracted attention at events such as overseas trade shows, and it is widely used in items such as corsages and accessories. Nowadays, Oriami has become known throughout the industry, and there will surely be many discussions about collaborations with different industries.

"Demon," made using "Oriami" by the origami artist Jun Maekawa

In the next and final article, Nagashima will discuss important points for becoming a corporation that increases creative productivity.


Series Breaking your company's boundaries and confidently taking center stage in pursuit of "creative productivity"

Series 1 Seeking to increase added value at SMEs through "creative productivity"
Series 2 The "creative productivity" of corporations is enhanced by understanding your own company and meeting with people
Series 3 Creating value by reviewing and combining your own company's "strengths"
Series 4 Breaking your company's boundaries and confidently taking center stage in pursuit of "creative productivity"


Satoshi Nagashima
(Managing Partner Japan, Roland Berger Ltd. *The present post : Global Innovation Officer)

Completed the Doctoral Program at the Waseda University Faculty of Science and Engineering. PhD (Engineering). After working as an assistant at the Faculty of Science and Engineering of Waseda University, Nagashima joined Roland Berger Ltd., a global strategic consulting company based in Germany. He is involved in projects such as grand strategy for manufacturing, business roadmaps, change management, and on-site digital arming. Nagashima has also served as a member of the "Strategic Commission for the New Era of Automobiles", operated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. He has also held positions such as a member of the Small and Medium Enterprise Policy Making Council, operated by the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency.

◇ Main Written Works
"AI On-Site Capability: Becoming Overwhelmingly Strong Through Japanese Innovation" (Nikkei Publishing Inc.) Published in 2017
"Japanese Industry 4.0" (Nikkei Publishing Inc.) Published in 2015

Coverage date January 30, 2020

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