Nothing in Excess

Have you ever experienced the Japanese commuter rush in the morning? No? Lucky you. While living in Tokyo, I had endured the cruel treatment for more than three years. On the platform of any station in Japan, door positions are marked up. Seeing long queues at the marks on the platform, commuters sigh at the thought of a great trip ahead. As I always thought that was strange, members in respective queues were almost the same, though there were around 15 queues. Me? Yes, always in the same queue without a rational reason. I don’t think other people also would have had a particular reason. Every morning, the usual faces in my queue reminded me that I was firmly caught up in the status quo bias. It seems human beings really dislike changes. Today, I didn’t mean to criticize from a height, saying “You should change,” but try to defend the human nature somehow.

As most of you may have already known that, let me explain the basic structure of the status quo bias. We select our behavior every second. The selection is decided by the comparison of reward and loss resulting from the behavior. What is important here is we are designed to take loss more seriously because it’s related more directly to our lives. In other words, our survival instinct makes us avoid changes. Due to the self-defense instinct, most of us avoid changes, while just a few people aspire to them. In any age, innovators, reformers, or first penguins are more likely to be touted, but I believe the good balance of risk orientation is important to make our society more resilient and sustainable. Changes can’t be made without objects to be changed, such as social norms or people every morning in the same queue without a rational reason.

The President of Conde House, looks conservative but is actually innovative.

Basically, CondeHouse is a conservative business. To begin with, furniture manufacturing is not novel or trendy at all. Most of the directors still wear ties and jackets, not in black turtlenecks and jeans. However, our president is always actively adopting latest technologies, business schemes, etc. This good balance may be one of the reasons why the company is resilient to survive for more than 50 years.

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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