The Key to Survival in the Market Is: Love It or Not Rather Than Good or Bad


MBA frameworks are no longer sufficient

AIDMA, PDCA, SWOT, PEST, 3C, 4P, STP, KGI, KPI, etc. I was so excited when learning these business frameworks in an MBA course more than 10 years ago. I naively believed I had gotten a key to the truth of the market. Later on, the world was soon full of MBA holders to commoditize all the above frameworks. I didn’t mean they were wrong and no longer worked at all. The frameworks can still lead people to correct answers in business, to the same answers, in other words. The problem is, such correct answers are necessary but insufficient in order to survive in the current market.

The value of quality is declining

High quality is absolute justice—most people believe this policy is correct especially in the manufacturing industry in Japan (like us). Our production people always keep making sincere efforts to improve quality more, even a little bit. Consequently, there’s not much room for improvement any more. Sadly enough, it’d be almost impossible for ordinary customers to tell such a small difference in quality. Even so, some of those improvements are shifted to prices. It seems like nobody wins anything here. I didn’t mean to blame our production team. Aiming perfection would be one of craftsman’s psychological needs. We can’t always say no to them only for cost reduction.

Our factory staff is working on something. The evening sun light is shedding on him.

Customer empathy is what we should aim for

High quality is not sufficient to survive in the market, but it is the fundamental nature of craftsmen to aim for high quality. In order to resolve this dilemma, we need interpreters between manufacturers and markets. For example, even joints out-of-sight are carefully finished up (deburred) in our products. Some might say it’s useless; some might find value in there. As it’s not obvious at a glance, we, sales reps, have to constantly introduce our craftsmanship to the market and find out the latter people. Customers with empathy for us.

Even MBA frameworks are not lethal weapons because we can’t make a differentiation only with correct answers any more. Then how can we survive? I think the next evaluation axis we should value would be neither “correct or wrong” nor “good or bad” but “love it or not.” I know it’s difficult to get such a loyal following, though.


Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.