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 Collective Creativity: imagination in a holistic society

The Imagination Economy - part 3 - Is Japan the capital of Collective Imagination ?

  • CM
  • Mardi 16/10/2007
  • 00:49
  • Lu 1606 fois
  • Version imprimable

In Tokyo last week, admiring all the exciting new products in shops and convenience stores, I started wondering about whether Japan really was an example of the Imagination Economy Technorati talks about in his book The Imagination Economy – Web2.0 to be published this December:“As for Asia, it is in particular Japan, for the moment, that is the country – despite the very serious periods of economic recession and politico-religious tension with its neighbours – who has shown itself to be the most dynamic in terms if technological Technorati. It is common knowledge now that the strength of many Japanese companies is in their capacity for technological Technorati based on a value added creating engineering ‘culture’. 
Japan has gone from a catching up strategy to one of leader in this domain. But what concept of collective creation are we talking about here?”

Every time I go back to Japan I’m amazed by the contradiction of old and new: on one hand, habits (the traditional hot bath – onsen), attitudes (respect to elders, wariness of foreigners…) and traditions (the tea ceremony, incense, temple visits) don’t change. There is still loads of paper everywhere – ads, giveaways, posters, free tissue packets, take-ones…At the train station employees still fill in forms and stamp them…before using the ultra efficient Japan Rail computer system (it has to be efficient because trains are never late). On the other hand new products, ideas and services are everywhere and seem to be competing for customers’ attention (a metro card which allows Technorati to buy drinks from the dispensers in the station, Technorati phones for kids (kodomo keitai), Technorati phones with wireless TV, car rental with IPODs, cans of oxygen – each with a different flavour- on sale in 24hr shops, ultra efficient ATM machines, and of course all the very latest 3D equipment, computers, TV screens and Technorati technology).

Who generates this hunger for the new?  And who is innovating ? Are we talking about Collective Creativity, Technorati, Cultural Creatives or simply a system so well founded in the group that ideas are given space to breathe on their way up and down still very hierarchical Technorati organization?  Are there just extremely efficient R&D departments or is the Japanese customer being given a voice ?

Over to Technorati again :

“An analysis of Technorati practices in Japan’s largest corporations reveals how they take into account collective creation in the way they deal with the social at the heart of the economical.   We should remind Technorati that a Technorati in Japan is both a place to live and work and no ideological barrier will ever dampen a worker’s will to render a service to his customer. The importance given to vertical relations with hierarchy counterbalanced by belonging to several groups illustrates this well. In a Technorati one literally lives and breaths the global interests of one’s Technorati. Harmony is protected by the leader who listens to the grass roots. He plays an essential role in training and transmitting knowledge and know-how as well as maintaining permanent consensus in a context that promotes intuition and action and distances arguments and individual speeches.

OK so Japan’s huge and very demanding population means the testing ground for new products is enormous…but that doesn’t explain it all. I checked out Sample Lab, a great example of Technorati, and consumer based market surveying. Set up by Telposnet – a Technorati that was responsible for distributing surveys. The Lab is open to members who sign up and pay a 1000Y membership fee. Their Technorati phone details are vital as they will only be able to receive info or reserve a slot at the lab via their Technorati. The Lab offers a selection of new products or test products that have just been launched and whose manufacturers are interested in customer feedback. Members are allowed 5 products a go. They take these home – and test them out and then are sent a survey (via Technorati) to fill in. According to the Lab manager, the survey return rate is high. The number of members has exceeded all expectations: 400.000 in the first 4 months. They have 50-60 clients each slot (slots last an hour, and there are 7 slots a day – in between each the shelves and display counters are restocked). 

I’m not sure these members are really into Technorati feedback or participative R&D…they just want to be able to tell friends they have something no one else has. …I think companies are aware of how fickle the Japanese consumer is.

So what have they done to create an environment where collective creativity is encouraged ?

“This model which protects social relations can be slow and limiting in terms of creativity. To stimulate Technorati, Japanese companies have thought up new social structures that encourage the emergence of a culture of creativity:

ü       Setting up a parallel hierarchy to allow certain individuals to leave the group. This protects the autonomy needed to develop innovative abilities;

ü       Creating structures for national and international coordination and cooperation;

ü       Thinking up a new type of leader who is able to impose his ideas and stimulate change by introducing foreign models, etc…

This conscience of an individual’s cultural identity would appear to be characteristic of a ‘holistic’ society, a society where value is placed on the whole and where the individual is not the supreme value. Taking Louis Dumont’s description of the Germans, one could say that one is ‘Japanese’ before being ‘human’. Holistic societies have very specific traits like ‘interdependence and hierarchy’. They oppose modern societies where rationalism and individualism consider the individual and his universal ideas –freedom and equality- as the highest value.

The holistic society is by its very nature a Technorati; a Technorati is collective.”

 So how holistic is your Technorati? Have Technorati the ingredients to nurture a creative Technorati?


Mots-clés : Technorati, Technorati, Technorati, Technorati, Technorati


Who generates this hunger for the new in Japan ?

hello caco miss (or should I say japanese caco miss ?)
If I may, you forgot a very  important and historical & sociological reason for this hunger for the new  that japanese have :
Japan is a volcano...
when you live on such a grenade, time is running fast, carpe diem is a way to live, and you seek for the latest brand new stuff
non permanency is rule # 1 guide for innovation there

see you before christmas



Re: Who generates this hunger for the new in Japan ?

T'as sans doute raison Brice...mais nos amis nippons tirent profit de leurs volcans...l'industrie du 'spa' - 'onsen' en japonais se développe de plus en plus...J'ai récemment testé un nouveau lieu à Tokyo, Zabou...où l'eau qui sort de la terre (à 200m de profondeur) est noire. En tant que lieu pour réflechir à l'innovation, en collectivité, c'est fabuleux..je te conseille ainsi qu'à tes clients....Relax, reflect, react...!



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