GEW -1: ‘Entrepreneur = Change Agent’


Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), an initiative by Kauffman foundation with strong support by the PM Brown of UK, and is held simultaneously around the world at this time of the year in order to promote Entrepreneurship in the world.  I have been involved in this initiative perhaps because I am known in promoting Entrepreneurship as the driving force for innovation.  GEW got on its track last year with 77 countries participated.  In Japan, Honda foundation, GRIPS, and several other institutions serve working as core organizers with the support from many idividuals and companies and institutions such as Nikkei.  I hear that the participating countries this year increased to 88. A variety of programs were held in Japan during the week of November 16 – 23, as well as additional activities before and after the week.

On 16th, the program at GRIPS opened with my keynote 'Entrepreneur = Change Agent' (Photo above).  My message was that 'Entrepreneurship' must have existed in Japan from long time ago, so there must be a Japanese word for it, and that word would be 'Shinshu no kisho'.  This thought was first introduced by Dr. Mochio Umeda, the author of 'Silicon Valley Seisin (Silicon Valley Spirit)', and I totally agree.  So, 'Entrepreneur = Change Agent' is in Japanese:

 'People full of Shinshu no kisho (entrepreneur)' = 'Henkaku sha (Change Agent)'

This is my message of the keynote lecture at GEW.  Not only the 'Founders' of business and corporate, but all those 'who have strong Shinshu no kisho (Entrepreneurship)' in society or institutions are the change agent.  The principle applies to every sector: industries, politics, universities, governments… People stuck to past experience or examples, people whose thoughts are focused first on excuses for being unable to do, is at the far opposite end of 'Entrepreneurship'.  This is always correct ? historically.

Somehow, many feel the 'lack of entrepreneurship' in any parts of our society in Japan these days.  Mr. Katakai also quoted my points in his recent blog  (in Japanese)

Executives and managements, whether in giant corporations, governments, or universities, are responsible for nurturing 'Entrepreneurship' in their people, making environment conducive to entrepreneurship. 'Organizations full of entrepreneurship' or 'Societies full of entrepreneurship' that embrace and nurture many 'people with entrepreneurship' is the organization, industry, society that promotes innovation.  This in the end will make a 'Nation full of entrepreneurship, thus innovation'.  Just by reviewing these 100 years, you will see that this is true in any excellent company.  Those companies grow and are able to adapt quickly to the changes of the environment.

How many names can you list up who were executives 10 years ago?  I mean the names of those who remain in your memories?  And why do you remember them?  I read this in a recent article in The Economist and I think this is a good point in a sense that this question reminds us the essence that corporate executives need to act to promote innovation in difficult times.

After the keynote, I quickly moved to Canadian Embassy which is located nearby, to participate in the opening day of the 2 days Symposium on Innovation co-organized by 'GRIPS-Toronto University' as part of the celebration of the 80 years anniversary of the Japan-Canada diplomatic relation.  Then I rushed back to GRIPS at lunchtime.

The noon session at GRIPS was a dialogue panel hosted by Prof. Yoko Ishikura on 'Design' with two 'Giants' of design, Mr. Naoki Sakai (in Japanese) and Mr. Ken Okuyama. I think it was a very exciting session particularly to those people in Japan who are strongly focused on technology, the 'monozukuri (manufacturing)' believers  (in Japanese) who tend to mistranslate in their mind the word 'Innovation' to 'Technological invention'.

After this session was the lecture on the philosophy of Peter Drucker by Dr. Ikujiro Nonaka in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his birth (November 19).  Peter Drucker is regarded as a very special person even in the context of modern history.  Then, I had to leave again for the Canadian Embassy for a panel.

In the evening, I made rounds of GEW at GRIPS, Canadian Embassy, and UCLA Japan Alumni Association.  I must say it was quite a busy day!