Noboru Konno, Professor at Tama Graduate School of Business / Masakatsu Mori, Research & Development Group, Hitachi, Ltd.
The Kyōsō-no-Mori Webinar; Innovation Starting with a Question is an event hosted by the Hitachi R&D Group that was live streamed on June 8, 2021. As our guest, we welcomed Dr. Noboru Konno, a professor at Tama Graduate School of Business who has been advocating innovation by Purpose Engineering. In the final part of this series, Dr. Konno spoke to us about environmental issues and corporate actions that need to be taken.


Click here for "[Part 1] What is Social Innovation? (First half)"
Click here for "[Part 2] What is Social Innovation? (Second half)"
Click here for "[Part 3] What is a purpose?"

"Transition" management needed in the age of environmental revolution

— The environment is one of the most poignant issues we must tackle at the moment. This is something much more than envisioning the future of the world. There may be various pathways leading to problem-solving. We hope to hear some thoughts from you both.

Dr. Konno
Once, I heard that Hitachi was using the keyword "transition" to engage in environmental issues. Transition is very important. But to create an environmental revolution, the transition may not be as simple as changing the existing system A to the new system B. The world may experience a continuation of complex situations such as launching the new system B while maintaining system A.

If so, it will be important to not only promote transition but also management. What is the purpose of changing the system? What happens if there is a problem in the system? I think that setting purposes as if you are thinking about scenarios may lead to transition management.

画像1: "Transition" management needed in the age of environmental revolution

I agree with you. To achieve carbon neutrality (to reduce CO2 emissions to net-zero) by 2050, where do we have to be by 2040? And in order to achieve that, what should we do in 2030? They have recently been saying that we need to use this backcasting way of thinking. As we question what we need to do to create a plausible future, we are working on taking on the challenge of setting transitional scenarios together with various economic forecasts and people's values, as one example.

However, not everything will go as planned, and I think there will be regional differences on how things are handled. I believe a challenge for us is adapting solutions depending on regional conditions, while collectively managing the goal of carbon neutrality. With Hitachi's concept of transition as a springboard, we are collaborating with stakeholders to think about what kind of big purposes we need to set and what kind of small and medium purposes should be established to match that larger purpose.

画像2: "Transition" management needed in the age of environmental revolution

From a story to a narrative

Dr. Konno
Recently, an expert in marketing was talking about "from a story to a narrative," which I thought was interesting. Narrative means a way of explaining or a manner of telling something. In other words, analyzing an existing successful case and trying to adapt its essence to stories of the past won't work. From now on, we need an individual narrative matching each time and situation, a power to narrate what is happening "here at this moment." I think this is a form of what design can do.

And as I have kept repeating, the important thing is to narrate the story while being aware of the big purpose, and putting it into action. I feel that this is what Hitachi is trying to accomplish.

Exactly. At our R&D Group's Global Center for Social Innovation (CSI), where I belong, there are many designers and researchers who are, in a sense, strongly attached to their work. My hope is to convey how these people are questioning the society in the form of a narrative.

Dr. Konno
Hitachi's engagement is a benchmark for Japan's industry as a whole. I will continue to keep my eyes on it.

— While creating a solution from cutting-edge technology is not enough, envisioning pretty images while creating something that doesn't move is also not enough. I strongly felt the importance of thinking, questioning, and putting into action how everyone can change society together. Dr. Konno and Mr. Mori, thank you very much for the highly interesting stories.

画像1: Innovation Starting with a Question - Vol. 1 Purpose and Social Innovation Business
[Part 4] How should companies tackle environmental issues?

Noboru Konno
Professor of the Department of Management and Information Sciences at Tama Graduate School of Business

Chairperson and Director of Japan Innovation Network, President of the Future Center Alliance Japan (FCAJ), and Managing Director of ECOSYX LAB, INC. After receiving his B.A. from the Department of Architecture, School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University, he gained a PhD in Management Information Science. In addition to popularizing the concepts of design management, knowledge creation management, purpose engineering, and innovation management, he is also involved in practical activities, such as leadership education, organizational transformation, workplace design, and urban development projects all based on organizational and societal knowledge ecology. He is also heavily involved in creating innovation opportunities and networking activities with the world’s top intellectuals through the FCAJ and Topos Conferences. He served as a juror for the Good Design Award in the design management field from 2004 to 2012. His multiple publications include: Innovate by Design-based Management; Art Company; and The Grammar of Knowledge Creating Management for Prudent Capitalism (co-authored with Japanese organizational theorist Ikujiro Nonaka).

画像2: Innovation Starting with a Question - Vol. 1 Purpose and Social Innovation Business
[Part 4] How should companies tackle environmental issues?

Masakatsu Mori
General Manager, Global Center for Social Innovation
Research & Development Group, Hitachi, Ltd.

Masakatsu Mori joined Hitachi, Ltd. after obtaining his master’s degree from the Graduate School of Engineering at Kyoto University in 1994. As a researcher in the Systems Development Laboratory, he worked on new services and solutions using cutting-edge digital technologies. He was also a visiting scholar at University of California, San Diego from 2003 to 2004. After leading the Planning Office at the Yokohama Research Laboratory and Production Engineering R&D, he was appointed to lead European R&D as Corporate CTO as well as General Manager of the European R&D Centre of Hitachi Europe, Ltd. in 2018. He was appointed to his current position in April 2020. He has a PhD in Information Science and Technology.

画像3: Innovation Starting with a Question - Vol. 1 Purpose and Social Innovation Business
[Part 4] How should companies tackle environmental issues?

Yukinobu Maruyama, host
Head of Design, Global Center for Social Innovation – Tokyo
Research & Development Group, Hitachi, Ltd.

After joining Hitachi, Yukinobu Maruyama built his career as a product designer. He was involved in the foundation of Hitachi Human Interaction Laboratory in 2001 and launched the field of vision design research in 2010 before becoming laboratory manager of the Experience Design Lab UK Office in 2016. After returning to Japan, he worked in robotics, AI, and digital city service design before being dispatched to Hitachi Global Life Solutions, Inc. to promote a vision-driven product development strategy. He is also involved in developing design methodology and human resource education plan. He took up his current position in 2020.

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