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Creative justification and self-axis to generate innovation

Hitotsubashi University Innovation Research Centerlong
Aoshima Yaichi

We asked Yaichi Aoshima, director of the Hitotsubashi University Innovation Research Center, a co-creation partner, about the organizations and individuals required for innovation creation, and about education after the shift to DX.


Yaichi Aoshima

1987 Graduated from Hitotsubashi University Faculty of Commerce. In 1989, completed the master's course at the same university's Graduate School of Commerce. In 1996, completed a doctoral course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management. Obtained Ph.D. (business administration). After working as a full-time lecturer at the Institute of Business Administration, Hitotsubashi University, he became an associate professor at the Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University in 1999, an associate professor in 2007, a professor in 2012, and has been in his current position since 2018. Specializes in innovation management

—— What is the “innovation” that Professor Aoshima is researching?

Innovation refers to innovation that brings some value to society, such as economic value and psychological value to society. Therefore, an “invention” that simply gives rise to new ideas is not an innovation. It can become "innovation" only after it is actually embodied in the form of products and services and spread in society.

—— Among them, you are researching innovation from the aspect of collaboration between large companies and startups.


yes. Large Japanese companies have accumulated "people, money, and technology", and they used to grow by combining them within the company and causing innovation, but in recent years, the number has decreased. Therefore, I believe that collaboration between major companies and startups is important as a way to create new Japanese-style businesses and industries, and I am conducting research in this area. If it is becoming difficult to innovate internally, I believe that it is necessary to provide resources within the company to the outside and connect them to those who initiate innovation, and I am conducting research.


Accountability that stifles innovation

—— In the past, innovation was born in large companies, but in recent years it has become more difficult?

yes. There are various reasons why it has become difficult for innovation to occur in recent years, but one is that continuous investment has become difficult. Even if there are people who innovate, innovation will not occur unless the resources of "people, goods, money, and technology" are continuously invested. However, it is not easy to explain to internal management the significance of investing resources in innovation whose future value and economic efficiency are uncertain. In recent years, in particular, the pressure from the capital market on companies has become severe, and one possible reason is that management teams, who are required to be rational in their decision-making and accountable, have become reluctant to make investments with a high degree of uncertainty.

—— Has the pressure from shareholders been increasing for a long time?

yes. The corporate governance code has become stricter, and the scope of accountability has expanded. On the other hand, innovation is difficult to create if you can't leave "play" well within the organization, but if transparency, accountability, accountability, etc. are pursued, it may be difficult to get people to understand the play part. I can't.

—— So what should we do to continue to invest in creating innovation?

It is important to create the significance and reasons for innovation activities from multiple perspectives. We call this the process of “creative justification”. For example, even if the economic value is not immediately visible, it is possible to explain the magnitude of the impact on society. I think that the SDGs and ESG, which have been hot topics in recent years, will be a tailwind for innovation in the sense that they will support such creative justification.

Also, investors and supporters are human beings, so if you talk about your thoughts with great passion, you may feel like, "This might be a good idea." Such thoughts, aspirations, and determination are extremely important for innovation.

It is also important to ride the trend of the world. Even if the activities are difficult to explain logically, if they are in line with the trends of the world, such as carbon neutrality or countermeasures against the declining birthrate, they can make supporters think that "this direction seems to be right." increase.

Furthermore, even if it is small, it is important to show that "customers want" or "there is a market" in order to continue innovation activities. For example, employees of large companies sometimes solicit crowdfunding, which has the significance of being able to prove the existence of the market by achieving the target amount and justifying the activity internally.

Large companies trying to create innovation are required to justify activities that cannot be persuaded by economic rationality alone.

—— Is the idea of “creative justification” important not only for individual innovators, but also for companies and management teams?

I agree. I think it's similar in terms of persuading investors of a company's growth story. For example, Sony has received conglomerate discounts from investors for its insurance and finance businesses, but by presenting a growth story that includes the entire business from electronics to finance, it has achieved results and its stock price has risen. Did.

Fujifilm has also succeeded in significantly changing its business structure from being a film-centric company to including the life science business. I think I was able to successfully create a story by connecting the company's growth vision with the core technology area. I think that's why we didn't necessarily get a negative evaluation from investors when we entered the seemingly unrelated cosmetics business.

In this way, in order for large companies to innovate, it is important to turn long-term development scenarios into attractive stories and visions.


Creation of innovation through creative justification

—— What is the difference between companies that are good at storytelling and those that are not? Many of the managers are conservative, and baby boomers are the major shareholders. On the other hand, when looking at the company, there are many companies where baby boomers are in management positions. It seems that there are many managers who do not have

That's right. I think it will be difficult for both investors and internal management to be caught in a dilemma. Furthermore, the objectives to be achieved, such as responding to the SDGs, are becoming more complex than in the past. Not only to make a profit, but also to challenge innovation with a high degree of uncertainty. On the other hand, social value should not be damaged. And it's hard to be asked to report every quarter.

People who innovate have strong feelings, so I think they want to work even if it means cutting down their sleep time. But in this day and age, that could be a violation of labor standards. Certainly, it is correct to think from each standpoint that we must not damage the value of society, or that we must protect the working environment of employers. However, in order for companies to grow over the long term, they must take on challenges with a high degree of uncertainty. The difficulty of innovation lies in the fact that these tend to contradict each other.

However, social and economic benefits go hand in hand. Eiichi Shibusawa's "Rongo and Abacus" is like that. At first glance, it seems contradictory. Innovation and rational management are sometimes inconsistent, but the company will grow only when they are compatible.

The individual axis required of innovators and the role played by any

—— In order to create innovation, there are organizational and individual issues, so far we have talked about organizations. What are the qualities required of an innovator?

What is required of innovators is that they are intrinsically motivated and have a solid core. To be honest, if you don't have a strong commitment to what you do, you can't do it. Whenever I do something new, I get a lot of criticism. Like, "What are you doing?" Most people think, "Why am I doing this?" On the other hand, if you do it with a purpose, you can be prepared to receive some criticism. Therefore, it is important to be prepared and committed to your own actions. Or someone who genuinely enjoys what they do. No matter what anyone says, people who think that they love what they are doing are suitable for innovators.



—— From a university student's point of view, do you feel that the students have or do not have intrinsic motivation in your lectures?

Students these days are very capable when they do something, but I get the impression that there are very few who take the initiative to take action on their own. Conservative students may have increased. During the bubble era, everything was exciting and there was little risk, so many people took action on their own initiative. There are many negative events, and I get the impression that both companies and people are on the defensive.

Another feature is that the number of people who want to make a lot of money may have decreased, but on the other hand, there are people who want to contribute to society, want to see everyone's happy faces, and so on. I think it is increasing.



—— I have the impression that it is difficult for the Yutori generation to develop a competitive spirit and independence because, for example, they do not win at sports festivals.

Maybe so. For example, a venture company called Spiber is a company that utilizes the spider's thread of population, and the management team has a background of going to Keio University by escalator from Keio Yochisha. One of the management said that he started to think about the essence of things because he did not have to take high school and university entrance exams and had a lot of free time. With a high degree of freedom and leeway, some people think about what they like and dislike about life, while others simply skip because there is no competition. I feel like I'm evolving. It would be nice to have an environment and people around them who can think essentially like them, but for those who don't, it might be better to have a certain level of rail.



—— In interviews with people in their 20s, I get the impression that very few people can talk about their likes and dislikes, what kind of person they are, what excites them, and what their goals are.


I agree. Job hunting used to be such an opportunity, but recently it has become a technical thing to get a job offer. It's not really my first choice, but if I don't say, "Your company is my first choice," I feel like that kind of trend has spread since the employment ice age. If you do that, you will start thinking only about how to get a job offer or pass the selection process, and you may end up misrepresenting yourself every time. In that sense, I think that I have lost the opportunity to think about myself in essence.


—— At any, people of the same generation with different backgrounds gather and discuss, and then think one-on-one with a working adult mentor about their humanity and what they want to be. And finally, we offer a program to think about living in a diverse society by gathering in groups and sharing. Do you think that any will be needed in the future?


It seems like I'm complicit in advertising, but I think it's necessary. In general, it is important to know how you live and what your goals are. I think it's the process of building it properly. I think it would be better to be able to do this kind of thing at the university, but I think it is necessary to support it.



—— However, I often get the objection that there aren't many people who can take advantage of this opportunity and make use of it in the future. There may not be many big changes, but I think creating opportunities like this and expanding awareness of the existence of such places will have a big impact. What do you think?


Good thing, isn't it? If you don't do anything, it may not be 1 out of 20 people who will change, but that percentage will increase. Originally, I think there are many people who are thinking about who they are in high school. However, there are many people who do not have the opportunity to think about it to the end and spend their university life and become a member of society by inertia. It is a big thing for even some of these people to be able to think through to the end and decide that for the time being, this is what they will do for the next 5 or 10 years. Not everyone needs to be an innovator. It's a big thing if even one person increases.



—— In the midst of the need for harmony between economic activities and society, such as impact investors, CSR, and sustainability, any takes the form that students can take for free by sponsoring companies. What are the benefits for companies by investing in any?


There are two major benefits for companies. When it comes to CSR, we have to earn a reputation that we have been sponsoring this activity for a long time. The other is that access to excellent human resources changes depending on whether or not you are involved with any. This is big, isn't it? I don't think it will be hired right away, but I think we can create a good point of contact with many companies that are short of human resources and want good human resources. The company should also be very stimulated when young people gather.


In next-generation education after DX, face-to-face communication that can transfer "heat" is more important

—— Lastly, I would like to ask about the ideal form of education that will be required in the future. Professor Aoshima, what kind of education do you think will be required in the future?

We believe that uniform education should be replaced with video content. If you just want to absorb content, it is most efficient to have the best people in the world teach you, so I don't think it is necessary to have instructors at each school. On the other hand, what is increasing in importance is that it cannot be done without face-to-face contact. For example, moral issues, aspirations, attitudes, axes, and preparedness. That kind of thing is not something you learn by being told. There is a person in front of me, and when I look at that person's expression and see their actions, I change myself. These things will remain as an education.

In the future, I think it will be divided into video content and face-to-face. Wouldn't it be great if we could digitize individual abilities and learning progress, and provide content linked to individuals on the web? However, even if education is digitized in this way, I think that face-to-face meetings will still be necessary in terms of receiving the thoughts of students.

Also, if you only use video distribution, you can only exchange what you have prepared in advance. I think it is difficult to create such spontaneous creative activities online. I think that face-to-face research will remain, and I think it would be good to invest in creative activities where new things are born out of communication.

We will disseminate various information about any students and the next generation.
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