By Yoriko Goto - January 23, 2013
“Innovate or Die” is not a phrase that is easily translated to be understood in Japanese. Everyone acknowledges that over time emerging countries or companies can catch up with developed countries by becoming more innovative. However, over the past 20 years many Japanese companies and citizens seem to have gradually lost their determination to innovate.
As a run-up to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Deloitte conducted a Millennial survey targeting those born after 1982 in 18 countries worldwide (300 targets per country). Overall, responses from Japanese indicate that they’ve lost confidence in their ability to be innovative. For instance, the positive response to the question “Do you work for an innovative company?” was only 25% in Japan compared to 60% for the global average. Also, of the positive responses to the question “Do you consider yourself as innovative?” responses for Japan were only 24% compared to 62% on average globally.
Will Japan keep losing its determination to be innovative? Of course, it shouldn’t. The country needs to revitalize by breaking through the barriers of innovation.
At Deloitte, innovation is recognized as being important and in fact is part of a global initiative. According to DTTL Global CEO Barry Salzberg, innovation requires following three elements:
- Have a framework: Indicate your organization’s commitment to innovation strategically and form an organized framework around it
- Think about the long term: Expecting short-term returns discourages innovative minds. Innovation needs tolerance in many ways
- Devote time for innovation: Ceate a work environment for employees that allows them time to pursue innovative activities
To put it simply, it is essential to recognize the approach for innovation overall, not just pursue short-term achievement, and acknowledge innovative activities to be one of tasks within companies.
Giam Swiegers, CEO of Deloitte Australia, has said that during the three years it took to establish his firm’s Data Analytics practice, he never demanded short-term results. The Australia member firm Data Analytics practice recorded significant growth by providing innovative ideas and solutions through building a fact-based, decision-making culture and maximizing the value of entities’ data—from the inside out.
Leaders have a responsibility to protect and nurture innovators in their organizations. Innovation can only begin if we are willing to take risks and protect potential innovative thinkers. I challenge all organizations to take this approach and start innovating today.
Yoriko Goto currently serves as Managing Partner, Financial Services Industry, and Member of the Board for Deloitte Japan. She has 30 years' experience in professional services, including 21 years in Tokyo and 9 years in New York, focusing on financial institutions. In addition to her member firm role, Yoriko is also a member of the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) Board for Global Financial Services Industry.