How 'Takumi Philosophy' Can Drive Innovation In the Current Pandemic-Hit World The way we conduct business operations will fundamentally change over the next five years

By Pranab Mohanty

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The year 2020 is landmark in human history. In fact, historians and anthropologists will be studying it as the year that marked a battle year unlike any other. It's a war between humanity and an invisible enemy that, at least presently, we have not fully understood. In fact, such is the trepidation around 2020 that the latest Pepsi outdoor stated "All I want for Christmas is 2021".

But even in these times of grave uncertainties and challenges, this crisis has presented us all with a vital opportunity.

Innovate. It is what "survival of the fittest" demands right now.

We need to understand that the way we conduct business operations will fundamentally change over the next five years. Those who innovate and adapt to the expectations of the #NewNormal will thrive as the road to recovery opens, while others would be left struggling to keep their noses above the water.

Taking inspiration from the Japanese "Takumi Philosophy'

The need of the hour is to incorporate incremental and architectural forms of innovation within your existing markets. The former implies utilising your existing tech to build more value for the customer through design changes and technical upgrades. Meanwhile, the latter dictates that the technology and experience from areas of one's expertise and operations be introduced into new areas (with the right research and tweaking) to produce great results. Both kinds require thorough research into the details that matter in the market at that point of time.

Takumi, or artisans, are world-renowned for the absolute mastery of their crafts that is attained after years of practice. While it is believed that gaining mastery may mean spending at least 10,000 hours learning a new skill, one needs to devote an astounding 60,000 hours to be bestowed with the distinguished title of "Takumi'. And it is that focus over the smallest detail that can drive innovation in this pandemic world and guide enterprises towards success.

Brands illustrating innovation during the pandemic

As the unlock started rolling out in various parts of the nation, a Gurugram-based bag manufacturer switched from designing and producing accessories for brands across various industries, to manufacturing PPE gear for people's health and safety. The move to upend their whole product offerings (when their regular business was shut down) was motivated with a thought to help frontline coronavirus workers, and their focus on the right details lead to a positive innovation.

As they remarked on their website: "Bags can wait".

And that sense of nobility in a difficult time would definitely not go unseen or unappreciated.

Another example came from a start-up named "Droom'. As a used automobile marketplace, they made an anti-microbial coating to disinfect vehicles called the "Corona Shield'. In a time when the details of hygiene have been dictating our lifestyle completely, their offering also promised great protection from bacteria, algae, moulds, etc to build a greater sense of safety for everyone.

Fuelled by the circumstances of the lockdown, along with identifying areas where value could be added, they paid attention to the right details and were able to drive positive transformation for the betterment of everyone.

We too are beginning to embrace this guiding philosophy while creating new offerings, looking for opportunities to gain competitive advantage and instilling and teaching the team to strive for perfection in the smallest details.

For instance, towards the end of the lockdown, we noticed the trend of people looking to make their homes more comfortable, realising that they would be spending much more time indoors. Acting on that trend, we were able to roll out larger capacity Refrigerators and Washing Machines. By getting a better idea of what consumers wanted in the market, we were able to drive product innovation during a difficult period, hence providing the user better choices.

By identifying the right details and in line with our philosophy of #DetailsMatter we could innovate and grow during what was a particularly tough time for our industry.

The core thought I want to conclude with is that we have a choice—a detailed focus on innovation that adds more value to products and helps develop more sustainable forms of doing business with the world around, or risk being a victim of evolution in time. Hopefully in this new year we see a new beginning by focusing on the former!

Wavy Line
Pranab Mohanty

VP, Toshiba HA Business

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