Osamu Yamada is not only the CEO for rapidly growing business application platform Kintone. He's also an internationally recognized expert on progressive company/work culture with insight into how innovative HR policies can have a transformative impact on a company’s long-term success.
In this recent interview with Mark Sandovnick, he shares his bold perspective on leadership, technology and innovation.
Mark Sandovnick: I noticed you were quoted as saying, "Our lifestyles are changing but the way we manage our businesses is stuck in the same place." Can you tell us a little bit more about what you mean by that in terms of culture and how you've seen it impact employee performance and wellness and everything with the business?
Osamu Yamada: From a management perspective we have the opportunity for more democratic team work where each person has a voice. At our company we strive every day to be more open minded and more open about information. In a lot of companies today only the highest executives have important information. Our team work is not about the leader having all of the information because we realize that information sharing is valuable.
The way our team works globally is that we help each other across culture, across the national lines. I don't want to push our model of team work but a lot of companies around the world and especially in the U.S. pretty much focus on the stockholders and they make employees compete within the company to stay relevant. Many people think that work must be that way. They think that is the only way but that is not. People are becoming really tired of that work style. All the time you have to compete or be evaluated. What we've learned is that people really want a horizontal model instead of more hierarchy.
Sandovnick: You know, Kintone is a leader in a very fast growing SaaS or what they call groupware industry. There's a lot of big players that are competing. There's a lot of local and region players that're competing. Can you describe how you meet those challenges, how you capture the opportunities for your business as well as for your clients?
Yamada: To meet the challenges of such a competitive IT market we listen closely to our customers. I think that every company says that they do that but it's not many companies that do, but we have to. Right now we are at the forefront of a massive movement from small traditional IT to easy build-your-own solutions. For us to really be innovative we have to constantly be trying new things and interacting with our customers to find out what they need. We need to learn constantly and not be discouraged. Our approach isn't always the easiest, but because we are ahead of the game I am asked to work with most innovative, most successful companies in the world.