Marketing Tips: Be the First Penguin! Only Passion Drives the World Forward


Beyond the logic

I repeatedly and knowingly tell my assistants to think logically at work. On the other hand, I must admit the world filled with believers in logical thinking like me must be super boring. In Japan these days, the word, EBPM, becomes popular: the abbreviation for “evidence-based policy making.” From my experience of working as a government official, I can understand it could be the principles of behavior for government agencies for accurate budgeting. Negative effects, however, may be larger to improve people’s lives.

First penguins are not so logical

Think about it. Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jeff Bezos (Amazon)—these people couldn’t have had firm evidence for their business because they developed what had not existed yet. In order to drive the world forward, EBPM is not enough or even an obstacle, and on the contrary, we need human pathos or passion. Another good example would be railway development in Japan.

Tokyu Railways is the second largest private railway company managing the rail network in areas around Tokyo. About 100 years ago when Tokyo was still much smaller, the founder aggressively bought land in the outskirt of Tokyo to build rail stations to expand the rail network. People laughed, saying “It can’t pay. Who uses the stations in such deserted areas?” Contrary to such criticism, many people moved one after another, and towns were formed around the stations. His passion for city planning without evidence overcame logic or the common sense to improve the society.

It’s not like we are inspired by the past lessons, but our product development is not in line with EBPM. It’s still product-out driven, but not in an arrogant way, like “we just want to make what we want to.” I must admit we are lack of ability to predict the market correctly. Even if we can, however, there’ll be another big problem—whether or not we can make it marketable. Even now, when technology has improved so much, mispredictions and miscalculations very often happen. We’ll never know until we try because of the characteristics of wood: no two are the same. I guess this would be why our products are still made mainly based on the pathos and passion of designers and our production team.

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.

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