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How should we train future management leaders?

How did Murata's Make2030 new human resources development program appear to well-informed persons? We asked Mr. Yuji Matsugano, Maple and Partners Co., Ltd., who cooperated with "Make2030" as its external mentor, about the impressions of the participants of the program and Murata's strengths, including ideas on human resource development as well as the general theory of leadership.

1. Think for yourself, discuss, and create new things

Mr. Matsugano, who has had contacts with companies as a management consultant, mentions that as far as he knows, there are increasingly more companies which make efforts to train management human resource in recent years.

Mr. Matsugano: "Since it is regarded necessary to operate with an importance attached to the improvement in shareholder value, company executives feel more responsibility to grow businesses on a long-term basis while securing short-term results. To achieve these, innovation and employee initiatives are indispensable. In addition, the relationship between companies and employees is changing. In the past, work could have been done well in some measure if a sense of unity among employees had been developed through company trips and drinking parties, but such days are long gone. These days, all strong companies and fast-growing businesses have many employees who excel at individual strengths. For those businesses, a serious management issue is how many promising talents they can recruit, and how to train those good people is regarded as a more critical management agenda. I have an impression that an increasing number of companies are actively undertaking the tasks."

He highly appreciates the way "Make 2030" was run, where the employees themselves devised programs, set up workshops, and had plenty of chances for valuable discussions.

Mr. Matsugano: "Since Murata develops businesses on a global level, it has a competitiveness that is hard to imitate. Murata's human resource development program needs training methods that are suitable to the future goals of the company. The training methods might be insufficient if they are simply about learning, but rather, Murata needs training to encourage employees to think and discuss the uncertain future, create something new, and become confident in exploring the unknown. In that sense, I think 'Make2030' is a strategic and rational program."

2. Provide candidates for management leaders with a diverse background

"Make2030" implemented for about 130 employees from May 2022 to train future management leaders. Mr. Matsugano asserts that it is safe to say that a limit value for organizational growth depends on how many talents companies can increase to allow them to demonstrate leadership.

Mr. Matsugano: "It is important for new leaders to present themselves in response to trends of the times and issues faced by corporations. A possible change in leadership helps elicit a sense of independence and participation from employees, and they can hope for the company that something might change."

However, he emphasizes that it is not good just for leaders to frequently change.

Mr. Matsugano: "The point for new leaders is whether they can assume a role in dismantling old value systems and established customs and adjust their own businesses to the trends of the times. So, I think it is important for companies to have management leader candidates who can look out for the future from the past and present by taking into account diverse backgrounds, such as generation, nationalities, genders, and characteristics."

As an important point, he also points out that "Make2030" aims at mid-career employees in their 30s and 40s and provides them with a chance to look into Murata's future vision and think of it as their matter at their early career stage.

Mr. Matsugano: "It is instructive for the candidates to lock their sight on and acquire experience in top management even when they are young in a global corporation like Murata. 'Make2030' was very effective in generating management awareness in the minds of mid-career employees."

3. Respond to social changes with hypothetical thinking based on imagination

"Team activities" of STEP2, in which Mr. Matsugano was directly involved, is the program in which participants were divided into 27 teams and created (verbalized/visualized) an imaginary future story by repeatedly collecting information and having discussions. He points out that this hypothetical thinking is also vital to imagining the future.

Mr. Matsugano: "Of course, there is competition among companies in every market regardless of whether businesses are new or old. Businesses could fall into a slump tomorrow even if they have been in good condition up to today. To prepare for such a risk, companies must always stay one step ahead, imagine the future, and seize new business opportunities. This is the way of thinking to respond to social changes with hypothetical thinking based on imagination. Even if it is vague, it is important to have a picture of how we want our own company to look in the future."

After the participants created their future imaginary stories, they figured out future action plans adapted to Murata's management issues and made proposals to their own management people.

Mr. Matsugano: "I guess this program has presented good chances to raise participants' sense of ownership and deepen their understanding of management issues and precious opportunities for the management people. I believe the management of the large corporation barely has a chance to listen to employees' opinions, and this is a really meticulously crafted program for both the management and employees to learn a lot."

Image 1 of Mr. Matsugano

4. Going back and forth in discussion leads to the exercise of thinking

In STEP2, Mr. Matsugano assumed the role of advising the participants about action plans as an external mentor. Reflecting on his role, he remarks that he was thoroughly committed to expanding the perspectives and viewpoints of the participants.

Mr. Matsugano: "When giving them advice, I paid attention to the following points: 'What are your ideals?' 'What kind of company do you want it to be in 2030?' 'What kind of fields and themes are you going to get hold of the ideals by?' 'What message do you want to convey to the management most?' Because I focused my support so that the participants could be aware of things through 'Make2030', I am happy if they gained even a little awareness while talking to each other."

He observes that as the participants engaged in extensive practice and dialogue, their teams underwent a variety of changes.

Mr. Matsugano: "As time passed, while some teams brushed up on their planning and became more powerful, others repeated discussions and research, closing in on something essential, but had more deepened concerns, ending up with distracted thinking in a good sense. It is very important to experience distracted thinking, and going back and forth in discussion leads to the exercise of thinking. In any way, the traces of trial and error could be clearly found in every team."

5. Organizations to be diversified and revitalized by "Make2030"

Mr. Matsugano recounts his impression of the participants, which he gained while lecturing about 130 participants and giving them pieces of advice.

Mr. Matsugano: "I'm surprised that so many people have a sense of independence, vitality, and humanity. Their point of observation is keen, and teamwork is also very good. I think it's very advantageous for individuals and the organization to have these talented people assembled in the company. I was fairly impressed to have looked at them as they amusingly thought about what they could do at Murata and what kind of employees they wanted to be."

Mr. Matsugano places more expectations on Murata's potential as a corporation from the standpoint of a management practitioner.

Mr. Matsugano: "Murata is a world-famous company. It is hard for companies to keep a high level of technology and maintain growth for a long period of time. The company values its unwavering identity and responds to the changing times without easily falling prey to fads. I got the impression that the firm corporate culture is rooted in Murata."

Finally, Mr. Matsugano concludes that he would like Murata to set "Make2030" as a new corporate culture.

Mr. Matsugano: "By continuing these human resource development programs, Murata can predict that they will be rooted as corporate culture in the future. Apart from communities such as co-workers joining the company simultaneously and organizations, the new axis of participant peer groups of 'Make2030' would be created, helping the organization to diversify and activate. I hope that new leaders will appear from among the participants of 'Make2030' and become bearers of innovation."

Image 2 of Mr. Matsugano

Mr. Yuji Matsugano,
Representative Director, Maple and Partners Co., Ltd.,

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