iStock photo/x-reflexnaja

Servant Leadership

There's more to leadership than driving a team to profit. In fact, there's a word for looking beyond self-interest to prioritize individual growth: servant leadership. Try this course for a quick breakdown of what that is, how it works, and how it can lead to organizational success.

Organizational Behavior and Leadership

Ever wonder what makes a great leader? Whether your role requires leadership or not, understanding organizational behavior is useful for your career. This course from GLOBIS Unlimited can set you on your way.

Leadership vs. Management

Leadership and management are different skills, but today’s leaders must have both. Try out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to understand the difference, as well as when and why each skill is necessary for motivation, communication, and value.

Strategy: Creating Value Inside Your Company

Have you ever wondered why certain companies are more successful than others? The answer is strategy: internal processes that control costs, allocate resources, and create value. This course from GLOBIS Unlimited can give you the tools you need for that strategic edge.

Strategy: Understanding the External Environment

To plan strategy on any level, you need to understand your company's external environment. In fact, your level of understanding can impact hiring, budgeting, marketing, or nearly any other part of the business world. Want to learn how to do all that? This course from GLOBIS Unlimited is the perfect first step!

Using Japanese Values to Thrive in Global Business

Japanese companies have unique cultural, communication, and operational challenges. But they also have values that have led to remarkable longevity. Check out this seminar to hear how these values help earn trust from overseas head offices and develop employees.

Turnaround Leadership: The Differences Between Japan and the West

What's the best way for leaders to communicate a shift in corporate strategy? How do you even know when it's time for such a change? This course explains how Japan might have one answer, Western companies another.

Conflict Management

Conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. But they can lead to positive outcomes if they’re managed well. Check out this online course for a two-step process that can help you manage conflict successfully.

Evernote Founder: How Tech Startups Can Break through in Japan

Can startup models from Hollywood and Silicon Valley succeed anywhere? Phil Libin, cofounder and CEO of startup incubator All Turtles, explains how AI can solve everyday problems to bring products to market.

Women Empowerment: Lessons from Cartier

How can women overcome gender inequality and reach their leadership goals? Cartier Japan CEO June Miyachi shares her secret in this special course from GLOBIS Unlimited.

Marketing: Reaching Your Target

Every company works hard to get its products into the hands of customers. Are you doing everything you can to compete? In this course, you’ll find a winning formula to turn a product idea into real sales. Follow along through the fundamentals of the marketing mix and see how companies successfully bring products to market.

Marketing Mix

Seeing good products into the hands of customers is no easy task. The marketing mix can help. It's a collection of strategies and tactics companies utilize to get customers to purchase their products or services, and is an essential part of the overall marketing process.

The Principles of Negotiation

With the proper skills and attitude, anyone can become a successful negotiator.  But first, you'll need to learn the basics to prepare for, assess, and respond to offers for the best results. GLOBIS Unlimited can help.

Negotiation: Creating Value

Want to create more shared value between yourself and your negotiation opponent? Discover how cognitive bias affects the judgment of others. Try this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to master the value of negotiation.

Finding Your Life Purpose with Ikigai

Ikigai can guide you in your quest for self-discovery. Listen to Japanese brain scientist Ken Mogi explain why and how.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Want to leverage Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a leader? Try this short course to see how the theory can be applied in practical work scenarios.

Confirmation Bias

We all subconsciously collect information that reinforces our preconceptions. It's natural . . . but it does lead to a kind of flawed decision-making called confirmation bias. To become more objective and impartial, check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

An Investor's Lesson to Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs have the power to transform societies for the better. But how do you attract investors to start or grow a business? Or to sell one? Check out this seminar for the answers to these and more, straight from a master venture capitalist!

Managerial Accounting

Managerial accounting is a powerful way to measure progress, identify problems, and meet your goals. Check out this course to learn how data-backed decisions can help you run your business.

Finance Basics: 1

For a healthy mix of quantitative planning, evaluation, and management, you need solid decision-making. And finance is the secret sauce! Get the essentials of finance in this two-part course from GLOBIS Unlimited.

Basic Accounting: Financial Analysis

Want to compare your performance vs. a competitor? Or evaluate a potential vendor? Then you'll need to conduct a financial analysis. This course will teach you how to use three financial statements and evaluate financial performance in terms of profitability, efficiency, soundness, growth, and overall strength.

Career Anchors

What drives you to be good at your job?

Career anchors are based on your values, desires, motivations, and abilities. They are the immovable parts of your professional self-image that guide you throughout your career journey.

Try this short GLOBIS Unlimited course to identify which of the eight career anchors is yours!

Digital Marketing Psychology to Transform Your Business

How does digital marketing really differ from traditional marketing? How is social media changing things really? And what's going on in Asia?

Pyramid Structure

Having the pyramid structure in your communication toolkit can not only help you approach a problem, but convince others that your solution is valid. Break away from linear thinking and test your logical thinking with this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

Leadership with Passion through Kokorozashi

The key ingredient to success? Passion.

Finding your kokorozashi will unify your passions and skills to create positive change in society. This GLOBIS Unlimited course will help you develop the values and lifelong goals you need to become a strong, passion-driven leader.

AI First Companies – Implementation and Impact

AI is changing the way companies operate. How do you structure teams to increase efficiency?

Technovate in the Era of Industry 4.0

Is Industry 4.0 is the next step of human evolution human civilization? Dr. Jorge Calvo seems to think so. Join him to learn how the past can help you set goals for an exciting future of digital innovation.

Technovate Thinking

Business leaders of tomorrow need to harness the power of technology and innovation. That means understanding algorithms and how they drive business results. Discover opportunities to make technology work for your competitive edge.

Product Life Cycle

Every product takes a natural course through the market—there's a how, when, and why customers adopt products at different stages. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to find out how a product you use every day is part of this cycle.

Logic Tree

Logical thinking is the most valuable asset any business professional can have. That's why logic trees are such a valuable tool—they can help you identify a problem, break it down, and build it back up to a solution.

MECE Principle

Using the MECE principle can help ensure you categorize without gaps or overlaps. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited for a practical demonstration of how it works!

As customer tastes diversify, businesses are using design thinking more and more to meet demand. GLOBIS is offering a course on Design Thinking as well.

But what is design thinking, and why is it the go-to answer?

Design thinking can be best defined by its holistic and future-looking approach that focuses on user experience. The system is comprised of several interactive cycles of unconstrained experimentation meant to widen the net of ideas by drawing members from a great variety of disciplines and functions.

IDEO CEO Tim Brown summarizes design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs and desires of people, the possibilities of technology and the requirements of business success.”

The design thinking concept was widely discussed in Japan in the early 2000s, but failed to gain a considerable following. The concept has become the focal point of heated debate in academia and business management circles again. However, it remains to be seen if and when Japanese corporations will employ the practice as a strategy for competitive advantage.

Roots – Creativity and Mass Manufacturing

To find the roots of design thinking, we need to look to Europe in the era of the Industrial Revolution (late 19th and early 20th centuries). It was then that people began to worry about manufacturing’s role on art. These fears gave rise to the Arts and Crafts and Bauhaus movements, both of which attempted to reunite the creativity disrupted by the Industrial Revolution. They also sought to find a new purpose for the arts in a modernizing society.

The Bauhaus Academy (literally, “house building” academy) was established in Germany in 1919 and revolutionized education by integrating artistic and industrial design media into “research science.” There, practical education was enriched with free experimentation in both the arts and sciences. Opposed to the traditional practice of copying existing models, students were encouraged to experiment without any stated purpose and to problem solve based on their own creative perception. Freedom of expression was complemented with a focus on economic sensibility, simplicity and reproducibility – scalability.

In the end, political pressure forced the Bauhaus Academy to close its doors in 1933. Subsequently, faculty members dispersed across the globe. The three most influential members found themselves teaching at universities in the United States.

It wasn’t until 30 years thereafter that the first formal model for design thinking was developed by Nobel-prize laureate Herbert Simons’ book Sciences of the Artificial.

Design Thinking Process and Successes

Though the concept has been around for a while, the term “design thinking” wasn’t coined until the 1990’s by the founders of IDEO in Palo Alto, US.

At the time, IDEO’s founders were looking to develop a method that would incorporate user needs and desires from the very early stages of IDEO’s innovation process. By incorporating these features into the early stages of the creative process, the acceptance and roll-out of new innovations were improved significantly.

The company used a five-step method, or iterative loop, in the innovation process:
1. Empathize to understand customer needs
2. Define to reframe a problem in a customer-centric manner
3. Ideate by brainstorming to open possibilities
4. Prototyping for hands-on adoption
5. Testing of the prototype

The method proved to be very successful and gained a strong following after the publication of the article “Design Thinking” by Tim Brown in the Harvard Business Review (June 2008).

Since then, modern-day design thinking has been used by North American and European corporations, NGOs, government agencies, and startups.

One business example is the case of Siemens.

The company opened the Industrial Design Thinking Center in Beijing, its largest market, with the aim to discover the hidden needs of customers. The specific goal was to understand and address problems that required complex social or cultural change.

Using design thinking, Siemens came to understand the customer much better. The company effectively overwrote the market’s sensitivity to price (ever present in the Chinese market). The new corporate message spoke to customers in a way that shifted their thinking from being price-sensitive to having an appreciation of the product value instead.

As a result, Siemens entered a market that was previously dominated by Chinese competitors and moved customers from a low-price point to a moderately high price range.

Why not Japan?

Japan has seen relatively low recognition and appreciation for design thinking. Even with several warning signals in the early 2000’s, many businesses in Japan failed to anticipate the looming disruption stemming from the digital revolution, globalization, and drastic changes in demographics that occurred all at once. Most felt no urgency to change; it was business as usual.

Is this the only reason design thinking hasn’t caught on?

Some point to an additional problem: a gap in communication styles between Japan and the West. The consultative, high-intensity approach of design thinking involves the customer in co-creation. Customer feedback is taken into account, and drafts are adjusted time and time again until a scalable prototype takes shape.

This interactive discussion doesn’t exactly align with the Japanese concept of customer service.

To a Japanese development team, comments received after a presentation tend to be taken as a sign of failure, a lack of understanding the customer’s thoughts, feelings, and needs.

As for brainstorming, a strong sense of group belonging in Japanese culture tends to limit the range of ideas. Input from outliers tends to be rare. The discomfort that comes with diverging from the mainstream leads to a preference for incremental improvements and so-called “kaizen,” as opposed to radically new approaches and innovations.

What’s Next?

It’s no secret that this is a time of uncertainty. Businesses worldwide (not just in Japan) have come to share a sense of urgency to improve business processes. As the marketplace becomes ever more complex, the acceptable time a company has to bring a product to market drops significantly. Customer behavior and needs are evolving at an increasing speed, and innovations become the new representation of value.

Recently we’ve witnessed designers moving from researching and developing products to developing processes, services, communications, and collaboration platforms. Perhaps it’s time for others to take notice of their thinking and follow suit.

Connect with Insights

Trouble keeping up with all the insights? Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly career inspiration right in your inbox!
Your newsletter subscription with us is subject to the GLOBIS Privacy Policy.