Create businesses with a bottom-up approach
2 years ago, I moved from TV production to the Business Creation Department. Once I left the actual production of TV programs and got a birds-eye overview of the entire organization, I noticed that we had a wealth of content assets and production capabilities that were largely left unexploited. We were also clearly a vertically aligned organization. Our role is to create TV programs requested by NHK, and this made it very hard for individual employees to independently undertake projects they are interested in, and work together effectively with other departments. I thought of what I could do to change this culture, and the result was the Ideation Cafe that I launched together with Kunitake Saso. It is a bottom-up, cross-organizational workshop for the development of new businesses using our existing learning-related content assets.
Involve people both across and beyond the company
It was my first time to hold a workshop, but people from all over the organization came to participate; from new recruits to executives. Saso helped to gather participants from other companies as well. The gathering of people from such diverse backgrounds led to vigorous discussions, and we collected nine ideas in a document called “Proposals for large-scale business development”. One of the proposals was approved, and it resulted in the launch of a business the following year. I have also received praise personally for the planning and operation of the Ideation Cafe, and received the Presidential Award for it.
Share management’s sense of urgency
When we were launching the Ideation Cafe, Saso told me that “a bottom-up approach can only succeed if everyone shares a sense of urgency about the future, similar to that often sensed by management.” Thanks to this advice, we knew to focus on the development of new business ideas, lest the workshop turn into a mere study group. The mindset of NHK Educational employees changed through cooperation with other companies, and ideas finally connected to actual business.
Co-creation through increased involvement
Thanks to Saso’s mediation, NHK Media Technology joined our project in the second year. We thus achieved collaboration among NHK affiliate companies. We now had a place to not only make ideas into reality, but also to learn about new technologies and jointly think about how to turn them into a viable business. With the participation of the administrative division, we also created new connections among other NHK affiliates, giving birth to new horizontal cooperation.
Connect different cultures
One important development was clarifying each company’s field of expertise. My company is skilled in devising plans and outputting ideas, but we don’t know our way around technology or business. By having NHK Media Technology help us out with the technical aspects, and startups with the business side, the road to implementation went much more smoothly. When company culture and industry terminology differed, BIOTOPE stepped in to translate between and connect us.
Learn to do it by yourself
In the course of running the Ideation Cafe, we noticed that we had adopted a production process completely different from our usual operation. Before we knew it, we had learned how to carry it out all by ourselves. We were used to writing proposals as one A4-page summaries, but now we were spontaneously employing visual aids and prototypes for them. This was a fascinating development.
Support to develop strengths
We have strong confidence in BIOTOPE’s ability to support in building a natural framework for us. They find each individual’s, department’s and company’s strengths, and facilitate workshops to help us develop them. Working together with them gives a strong sense of progress in the right direction.