Educating Co-creative Leaders (1): Yokogawa Collaborates with Waseda University

Educating Co-creative Leaders (1):Yokogawa Collaborates with Waseda University

Ideal leadership is redefined as time and environments change. In today's world, with its unpredictable future, co-creative leadership spurring value creation through ideas and growth with diverse partners is replacing touted styles of instructive and dictatorial-type leadership. At Yokogawa, the importance of co-creating is embodied in the corporate Purpose (the “ability to connect”) and in the corporate brand slogan (“Co-innovating tomorrow” ).

How does one develop human resources into suitable co-creative leaders? One answer is found in Yokogawa's Future Co-creation Initiative. Nobuyuki Tamaki, Project Leader of the Initiative, shares insights from his interview with Professor Jusuke Ikegami of Waseda University's Graduate School of Business and Finance (Waseda Business School), an Initiative supporter.

In Part One of our three-part series, we trace Professor Ikegami's involvement with the Initiative and investigate the leadership style this industry-government-academia fusion seeks to develop.


Collaboration emerged from shared awareness of the challenges

Professor Ikegami of the Waseda Business School, a leading Japanese researcher in global business strategy, provides members of the Initiative with advice from a management perspective. Tamaki's acquaintance with Ikegami began over a decade ago when he took the professor's business strategy course. Since then, the two have deepened their friendship over shared meals, and as Tamaki has sought Ikegami's advice concerning work. Tamaki begins by characterizing his colleague.

“Professor Ikegami has been in the vanguard of the business world, starting with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). He later worked for Softbank EC Holdings (as it was then known) and Nissay Capital. He conducts research domestically and overseas from a global perspective and has a wealth of experience in business schools, consulting firms, and business corporations, representing a rare vocational background.”


Ikegami, meanwhile, recalls that Tamaki brought presentation materials for his new proposal on the Future Co-creation Initiative to one of their shared meals. “I think the occasion was more about the presentation than the meal,” he smiles. “Yet what he had to say was extraordinarily interesting. I have always considered scenario planning as an essential approach in this time of uncertainty. The process of putting young people center stage to draft future scenarios as part of human resource development is a unique approach. I sensed that expanding this would be helpful not only to Yokogawa, but to other companies as well.”

Ikegami and others had just established Waseda University's Governance & Sustainability Research Institute (GSRI), coincidental timing for the mutual interests shared by the Initiative. Their awareness of various issues converged perfectly, and things began rolling quickly with a strong boost from Yuko Kawamoto, formerly of McKinsey & Company, and—at the time—Research Director of GSRI. (Kawamoto is currently President of the National Personnel Authority.)


Future forecasting vs. scenario planning: which is more effective?

According to Ikegami, scenario planning is often confused with future forecasting, and many people misunderstand the meaning of both. “Future forecasting is achieved by drawing a line from accumulated past knowledge and using that to predict the future. Directionality remains unchanged, the only difference being the range of degrees. Scenario planning, on the other hand, tries to predict the uncertain future by setting multiple determining axes and working backward from them, generating ranges of both directionality and degrees. The ideas and strategies born from analysis incorporating both factors are completely different from those enabled by analysis based solely on the range of degrees.”

Ikegami offers a concrete example to clarify the difference: “Consider major business magazines which, at year-end, forecast trends for the following year. Yet in 2021, none of these publications predicted Russia's February 2022 military invasion of Ukraine. In scenario planning, the analysis would establish one storyline in which the world remained peaceful and another in which the world grew fractured, allowing strategies to be devised by working backward on each. The latter incorporates the risk of heightened international confrontation and conflict into its analysis.”

Tamaki adds to Ikegami's explanation: “Future forecasting tends to be used in guessing and leading people to the established prediction. Scenario planning, on the other hand, assumes the future cannot be predicted and serves as a positive tool for exchanging worthy opinions. In other words, it can serve as a technique for effective discussion that brings about change.”



The qualities of good global leaders

Ikegami has analyzed what he looks for in a talented global leader. He identifies four components: an experience as a top leader, academic knowledge and insight, interviews with over 200 domestic and international CEOs/CHROs, and experience providing leadership education to thousands of business school students.

“There are too many definitions of a global leader to recount here, so let's just use this one: 'a leader who has a mechanism to beneficially influence followers worldwide.' This role requires a certain skill set and particular qualities. However, these two prerequisites should be considered separately.”

Skill sets embody learning and experience and are improved over time. Ikegami offers the following three characteristics as an example of an essential skill set for global leaders:

  1. The ability to generate innovation
  2. The ability to lead change
  3. The ability to manage complex multicultural teams

Qualities, meanwhile, include one's innate personality and characteristics. Global business specialist Alan Bird identifies the following four qualities of a global leader, which do not easily vary even as one gains education and experience:

  1. Integrity
  2. Humility
  3. Inquisitiveness
  4. Resilience

Tamaki and Ikegami


The four qualities of increasing importance

Ikegami points out that although most people prioritize skill sets, it is qualities that are now becoming increasingly important, as not a small number of top leaders have recently been ousted due to a lack of integrity and humility. A prime example, he suggests, is the former CEO who led a major Japanese automaker for about 20 years.

“I met that leader about once a month when I led his company's succession planning program some time ago. In terms of the skill sets needed by a global leader, he seemed to be the cream of the crop, meeting all the requirements. And yet, after 10 to 20 years of achievements, his lack of honesty and humility became evident. In fact, those two qualities cannot be demonstrated if they are not inherently present from the start.”

Ikegami's particular focus is on the third, perhaps less familiar, quality of inquisitiveness, which enables us to develop skill sets and pursue experiences. Inquisitiveness also demonstrates how, through interest in other cultures, we can easily accept others. That ultimately leads to innovation and change.

Finally, the fourth quality needed by leaders: resilience. “Failure is a part of taking on new challenges. Without failure, there is no growth. Being intrinsically 'failure-resilient,' with the ability to recover toward growth, is an essential quality for a leader,” Ikegami assesses.



Validating the Future Co-creation Initiative as young people assume leadership

Ikegami predicts a shift, with young people increasingly assuming leadership. “In Japan, the average age of incoming corporate presidents is 60. Earlier this year, Toyota gained a new president who was 53 years old. In my opinion, however, even younger candidates should be leading companies. We therefore need opportunities for young leaders to benefit from development and training from an earlier stage in their career.”

Until now, we have prioritized the experience of the older generation. The assumption is that the future is a direct extension of past experiences; therefore, those experiences become useful in the future. Conversely, however, when the future is uncertain, as it is now, past experiences can impede and be detrimental to the organization.

“Young people have ample lead time to learn through training, change flexibly, and grow. They are not tied to past experiences. If the mindset is there, they have a great chance to create new value and innovate.”

The Future Co-creation Initiative has its young members read over 100 books covering various fields to enable dialogue with global leaders and experts, which in turn helps them create scenarios. These preparations elevate young peoples' grasp of various factors, from social and industrial megatrends and the essence of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) education to thought processes for improving conceptual skills and co-creative communication techniques.

Tamaki and Ikegami

Ikegami praises the Initiative: “It has all the major elements needed to develop leaders for the future.
Even if you search far and wide throughout Japan, you will not find an executive aged 60 or older who has read such a huge number of books regarding the future. Amassing experiences like these will naturally endow young people with rich knowledge of corporate strategy gained over a long period from a panoramic perspective. That will develop the axis they need, giving them an edge over other executives.”

The idea is to provide opportunities for young people to expand their peripheral vision and link their experiences to strategies. For both Ikegami and Tamaki, the significance of the Future Co-creation Initiative is that it offers that platform.

Part Two of this interview will offer detailed insights into the significant distinctiveness and superiority of the Future Co-creation Initiative.


(Continued in Part Two)



Jusuke Ikegami

Jusuke Ikegami
Professor and Dean, Academic Affairs, Waseda Business School
(Graduate School of Business and Finance, Waseda University)
Research Member, Governance & Sustainability Research Institute
D.B.A. (Business Administration)

Hobbies: basketball, indulging his sweet tooth

Nobuyuki Tamaki

Nobuyuki Tamaki
Project Leader of the Future Co-creation Initiative

Hobbies: skiing, listening to classical music, travel


Future Co-creation Initiative Menu



Top page of Yokogawa’s “Future Co-creation Initiative”


Our collaborators discuss the value and meaning of “Future Co-creation Initiative” from various perspectives.

About us

About us
Introduction of our next-generation leadership development and a co-creation network beyond the scope of business.

Our Passion

Our Passion
Background and aspirations behind launching co-creative activities in an age without clear answers.

Future Scenarios

Future Scenarios
Future scenarios generated by young leaders of the future through scenario planning and co-creative dialogue.

Scenario Ambassadors

Scenario Ambassadors
Introduction of Scenario Ambassadors—representatives selected from each Yokogawa department enjoying growth and learning.

Collaborator Networks

Collaborator Networks
Fostering “weak ties” among our supporters, partners and individual companies, while building an industry-government-academia network.

Sponsor Article

Sponsor Article
Article published by WIRED, the US-based tech culture magazine.


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