We introduced Team Sunrise, an internal network of employees within the Hitachi Group, in March 2021 through a five-part series. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the team’s activities were conducted exclusively online. However, in April 2022, it finally resumed its in-person, face-to-face activities. A talk event featuring keynote speaker David Schonthal, co-author of the best-seller “The Human Element,” was organized by the Team in June 2023 at Shibuya QWS, showcasing Team Sunrise’s true value. In this four-part series, we aim to spotlight the members of Team Sunrise deeply involved in organizing this event, providing insights into Team Sunrise’s dynamic activities. In the first installment, we interviewed Masahiko Sato, Head of Team Sunrise.

Click here for "【Part 1】 15 Years of Hitachi’s Internal Employee Network"
Click here for "【Part 2】 The Logic of Transforming an Organization"
Click here for "【Part 3】 Making a Fresh Start from Stagnation"
Click here for "【Part 4】 Challenging the Pandemic by DX of Innovation"
Click here for "【Part 5】 Secret behind the Longevity of Team Sunrise"
Click here for "【Part 6】 Drivers of Innovation"
Click here for "【Part 7】 The Man Who Brought the US Bestseller “The Human Element” to Japan"
Click here for "【Part 8】 Global Mindset and English"
Click here for "【Part 9】 Organization Where Innovation Occurs from the Bottom Up"


In-Person Event “To Cheer Each Other”

Team Sunrise was established in 2006 as an internal study group across the Hitachi Group. Its members organize seminars and workshops where employees can share ideas and knowledge to drive innovation. These events often stem from members’ out-of-the-box thinking and ideas. To grasp the essence of Team Sunrise, you might consider it as a network connecting individuals across Hitachi due to the extent of its activities and personal connections. During the two years of the pandemic, Team Sunrise had to shift its activities online, but its membership grew from approximately 2000 to 2500 during this period. It’s safe to say that Team Sunrise expanded its reach in these two years. In April 2022, Team Sunrise finally resumed its face-to-face activities. Masahiko Sato, the founder and head of Team Sunrise at Hitachi, Ltd., reflects on this event:

“Our first in-person event after nearly three years was a joint collaboration with a start-up venture department from a major company. The event’s concept was ‘Cheer to Spark Innovation,’ aimed at motivating and inspiring each other. Each participant presented their projects addressing social and societal challenges, and we exchanged positive feedback. This event marked the beginning of a series of similar events with other companies and local governments, occurring every two months.”

画像: Masahiko Sato at Hitachi, Ltd.

Masahiko Sato at Hitachi, Ltd.

Innovation Driven by ‘Three Wheels’

“Cheering to drive innovation” embodies the spirit of Team Sunrise. Stakeholders both inside and outside Hitachi make up the ‘Three Wheels’ that drive the organization of various events. Through the process of realizing these events, members learn to tackle new challenges at hand and ultimately become ‘producers,’ as Sato puts it.

“I call it ‘producer-ship.’ A member envisions a business of the future based on their own sense of mission and comes up with an event idea. Then, other members who resonate with the vision step in as ‘supporters,’ assisting with necessary arrangements to plan and organize the event. We also need sponsors who provide essential resources such as funds and venues (‘sponsorship’). These Three Wheels combine to bring an event to life. Notably, these ‘producers’ are often willing to support other members’ event plans. We’re here to encourage and assist each other in realizing our ideas – that’s the fundamental attitude of Team Sunrise members. It’s easier to step into our activities as a helping hand to make others’ visions a reality.”

画像: Innovation Driven by ‘Three Wheels’

A talk event featuring a keynote speech by Professor David Schonthal on June 23, 2023, exemplified the Three Wheels in action, realizing one member’s idea. The initial ‘producer’ of this event was Kenichi Funaki from Innovation Growth Strategy Division at Hitachi, Ltd.

“Blind Spot of Innovation” - Producer’s Point of View

画像: Talk event with a keynote speaker Prof. David Schonthal at Shibuya QWS on June 23, 2023

Talk event with a keynote speaker Prof. David Schonthal at Shibuya QWS on June 23, 2023

In April 2023, Funaki approached Sato with an idea related to a Japanese translation of a book titled “The Human Element,” released in February. Funaki emphasized that this book was a must-read for anyone involved in business innovation and that he happened to be the editorial translator. He also mentioned that David Schonthal*, one of the co-authors of the book, was scheduled to visit Japan in June, presenting an opportunity to introduce his ideas in Japan.

* David Schonthal: Professor at the Kellogg School of Management and practitioner of entrepreneurship, design, and innovation. He previously worked at design firm and currently serves as a partner at a venture capital firm. He co-authored a bestselling book, The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas, with Loran Nordgren in 2021.

画像: David Schonthal

David Schonthal

While many books on innovation focus on “how to generate great ideas,” Funaki explained that this book delves into “why even the most promising new ideas often struggle to gain traction with their intended audiences and what to do about it.” The book identifies ‘frictions’ that hinder the adoption of new ideas, breaking them down into four human elements: “Inertia,” “Effort,” “Emotion,” and “Reactance.” It offers techniques to understand and overcome these frictions, with case studies from various companies and organizations.

画像1: “Blind Spot of Innovation” - Producer’s Point of View

Impressed by the book, Sato immediately began reaching out to people to make the event a reality.

“We initially considered making this an internal Hitachi event, but a two-month lead time wasn’t sufficient to navigate through all the necessary approvals. That’s why we decided to host this event under the auspices of SIGN (Social Innovators Global Network), an organization in which Team Sunrise is involved. We managed to pull off the event within the timeframe. This speed is typical of Team Sunrise when organizing an event.”

画像2: “Blind Spot of Innovation” - Producer’s Point of View

“Supporters” and “Sponsors” Which Made the Event Possible

In addition to Sato, two other Team Sunrise members supported Funaki’s idea as ‘supporters.’ While Sato served as the event’s emcee, Tatsuya Goke from Hitachi Management Partner Corp. volunteered as an interpreter, and Takato Kusama from the Social System Division of Hitachi, Ltd. gave a presentation. Both of them are known as ‘producers’ who actively organize study groups within Team Sunrise.

Sato also invited two external ‘supporters’ from outside Hitachi – Ryosuke Toura, Executive Officer of Tokyu Corporation and one of the mentors to SIGN, and Yukiko Nakagawa, Director of Nissin Foods Holdings Co., Ltd., renowned for her expertise in human capital management. Having read Professor Schonthal’s book, both agreed to participate in a talk session during the event as subject-matter experts.

画像: Ryosuke Toura, Executive Officer of Tokyu Corporation (left) and Yukiko Nakagawa, Director of Nissin Foods Holdings Co., Ltd.

Ryosuke Toura, Executive Officer of Tokyu Corporation (left) and Yukiko Nakagawa, Director of Nissin Foods Holdings Co., Ltd.

Soshisha Publishing Co., Ltd., the publisher of the Japanese translation of “The Human Element,” sponsored the event, providing the necessary funds. The event was also made possible with the support of Shibuya QWS, which offered the venue, and IDEO, a design firm where Professor Schonthal previously worked, which assisted in publicizing the event.

David Schonthal Appears in Shibuya

On June 23, 2023, the event took place at Shibuya QWS with Professor David Schonthal as the keynote speaker. Approximately 60 people attended in person, with an additional 200 joining online, including an international audience. Reflecting on the previous two months since Funaki presented his idea, Sato remarked:
“The entire endeavor can be summarized in three words: ‘producer-ship’ of Funaki-san as the catalyst, ‘supporter-ship’ from individuals both inside and outside Hitachi who collaborated to bring his idea to fruition, and ‘sponsorship’ that made this event possible. I hope that other members will be inspired to take action after witnessing these ‘producers’ from Team Sunrise stepping up as supporters to help realize Funaki-san’s idea.”

画像: David Schonthal Appears in Shibuya

In the upcoming installments, we’ll delve into how these producers and supporters of Team Sunrise worked behind the scenes, starting with an interview with Dr. Funaki, the originator of this event.

Click here for "【Part 7】 The Man Who Brought the US Bestseller “The Human Element” to Japan"

画像: Team Sunrise – Hitachi Employees’ Network that Fosters Innovation
【Part 6】 Drivers of Innovation

Masahiko Sato

Chief Strategist at Open Innovation Promotion Office, Innovation Project Management Center, R&D Group, Hitachi, Ltd.
Head of Team Sunrise (formerly known as Global Wakate-kai founded in 2006), a network of employees across Hitachi.
Before joining Hitachi, Ltd. in 2001, he worked at non-governmental organization as system engineer. While working for M&A projects and incorporation of a consulting company, he earned MBA in international accounting. He also worked at IT Strategy Division at Hitachi Headquarters and Global Center for Social Innovation at R&D Group as Chief Researcher. As Chief Strategist, he currently leads open innovation and strategy planning for research and development.










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