So, We Have to Chase After Fans

AIDMA, PDCA, SWOT, PEST, 3C, 4P, STP, KGI, KPI, etc. When learning these business frameworks in an MBA course more than 10 years ago, I was so excited, feeling like I got a key to the truth of the market. However, the world has been soon full of MBA holders, and all the above frameworks have been commoditized. I didn’t mean they were wrong and no longer work at all. By the frameworks, any and every person can reach correct answers in business, or the same answers, in other words. The problem is, in order to survive in the current market, correct answers are necessary but not sufficient.

High quality is absolute justice — this is an answer believed to be correct by most people especially in the manufacturing industry in Japan (like us). Our production people, for example, always keep making sincere efforts to improve quality more, even a little bit, though there’s not much room for improvement. 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 nobody wins anything, but I didn’t mean to blame our production team. It’d be one of craftsman’s psychological needs to aim perfection, and we can’t always say no to them only for cost reduction.

High quality is not sufficient to survive in the market, but seeking it is the fundamental nature of craftsmen. In order to resolve this dilemma, interpreters between manufacturers and markets are required. 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, 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 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.

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