Hamaguchi: I think I’ll bring my best game from now on.
My wife: What’s that?
Hamaguchi: You think this is the best I can do?
My wife: Best? Are you talking about golf...guitar?
Hamaguchi: Business management!
My wife: Wait...you haven’t been doing your best so far!?
It was in a couple’s conversation such as this that we decided to participate in a certain business management course.
I’ve been running this company for more than 20 years, writing business management materials in the occupation column.
But I hadn’t ever participated in training or study courses regarding management thus far. I didn’t especially like the notion of training with other managers and executives of the same industry, and obviously those special types of mental endurance meets like hiking Mount Fuji at night.
Perhaps a lack of studying on my end, but there were times when I just preferred remaining as an adman leader instead of becoming a business owner.
There happened to be a management course sponsored by Cybozu called “Teamwork Management”.
Cybozu is a company I love in many ways, and a certain favorite person of mine there invited me to participate as a total beginner. Considering Cybozu’s corporate style, I was sure they didn’t include any tough mental endurance training methods like midnight climbs up Mount Fuji (laugh) so I immediately replied that I’d signed up.
Bigbeat is a marketing and advertising agency that supports B2B initiatives.
“Japan’s B2B marketing is behind that of the US by 10 years.”
According to the likes of Mr. Niwayama of Symphony Marketing and US-Japan marketing expert Neal Schaffer.
Cybozu is often spoken of as a top runner in the Japanese B2B marketing realm. I've noted for a long time that Cybozu incorporates marketing into their business management style, and by marketing I don’t mean sales promotion or advertising. The way I define marketing here is as something that serves the highest functions of a business. Management is not just about corporate administration. It’s the receiving of continual support by society.
Society is in essence, a customer, a partner company. And more than anything, employees and their families, and those who wish to be employed.
And all other people concerned. Shareholders, too.
While management is business conduct, marketing is the function. It’s a function necessary to be “chosen” as a business.
People think advertising promotion is the function for acquiring new customers and the rest is marketing, but this isn’t the case.
Cybozu thinks about “who, what, and how to be chosen” as a core principle behind their business. They don't just simply rely on good advertising.
It’s more important than ever to continue to be chosen in this business era of cloud and subscription models. Fan communities develop around products and services, and growth is organic from word of mouth. That is the best. Also, when there are giant rival corporations (like Google and Microsoft), your workplace needs to be chosen by talent.
And not just customers or partners, broadly speaking, there’s nothing stronger than a company that’s chosen by society. Getting to that place is the function of marketing.
Now back to the story about the teamwork management course...
Cybozu’s corporate philosophy is to create a society abundant with teamwork.
For that to happen, they develop IT tools. And inside the company, they have a unique management approach, innovative work style, and are often featured on media. You can learn more from President Aono’s book as well.
I use groupware in my own company as a tool to improve the quality of teamwork in my company. I felt like this business management course would serve as a shortcut to realize the potential of teamwork in the company. (That is, if the participating companies’ management is willing to change.)
This management course wasn’t just for business owners, it included people who are part of business planning. Between lectures and workshops to luncheons and post-session gatherings, there were many social exchanges between participants. (6 companies this time)
From my company were 6 participants including myself, a chairman, and four young leaders. We thought about how to better the lives of everyone in the company and thus shared what we learned and what we wished to change or implement through our internal groupware (of course!) Cybozu.
And there arose the question, “Is there a gap between company philosophy, vision and reality?”
When you yourself create a company, you create it’s philosophy and vision. And it can be a difficult thing admitting there is such a gap. One really needs to take it in seriously to make an admission after looking in the mirror, because change can only happen after the fact.
I had good intentions the past 20 years, despite my odd character, but I had the painful thought that things can’t continue to remain like this.
“For all people involved to be happy”
“To become a rake of prosperity in business”
Our vision is realized through the proposing of plans for marketing strategy that are based on the client’s business strategy, and through journeying together until success is realized. Simply put, we want our clients to be satisfied with the resulting profit from working with Bigbeat, and furthermore see that the process was a fun one.
I made the philosophy “For all people involved to be happy” because of the climate in the advertising industry.
There’s a saying, “This world is made of oxygen, nitrogen, and advertisements.” I believe that it’s the job of advertising to contribute to a happy atmosphere in society. The work itself is fun, but there is a strong hierarchy unique to the industry, where there is often a problematic structure of overwork and subcontracting.
We are involved with a lot of live events. Visitors of such events are the important clients of clients. Customer satisfaction surely leads to the success of an event. But on the other hand, for the longest time, there’s been the common case where the people involved behind the scenes themselves aren’t happy. Even in today’s work style reform, people are being overworked and pressed with subcontracting. It’s not fun this way, is it? I wanted to change the way things are in the advertising industry, so I made this company philosophy upon its creation.
“The people involved” refers to the client and their customer. And more than anyone else, the partners who help us realize events and communication, the staff, the construction workers, the security guards. Also the students who look to join the company, the people making deliveries, the salespeople, the neighboring offices, guests of Bigbeat LIVE, and etc. Anyways, I don’t want people to be put into unhappy situations. I also understand the difficulty of reaching this ideal.
Drawing closer to this philosophy requires making things better even one step at a time, for us to make this a happier place. When other people are happy, we are happy. That’s the kind of companionship I’m talking about. That’s this company’s philosophy.
I questioned whether after 20 something years of having this philosophy, we can truly say we have done this to the fullest extent.
Have I myself been embodying this?
Have I been taking measures to be aware of things that go against this philosophy?
While thinking about this, I uttered out loud, “This isn’t the best I can do!”
Our work is about bettering the futures of ourselves and those around us.
I saw some poster somewhere that had a catch copy,
“Life is the review of what was learned in elementary school!”
Giving a bright morning greeting, not doing things that others don’t like, not drinking too much. (Oh, that wasn’t in elementary school (Laughs).)
It’s these kinds of things that we learned in elementary school, for me half a century ago.
How can a company be chosen and supported by society and continue to survive?
The number one answer to that is to strive for a higher philosophical ideal, and your fellows will naturally share those thoughts and act upon it.
It was this instance that I thought we needed to really do this seriously. And I’m glad I did at 56.
Thank you to Cybozu teamwork management course for the opportunity.