March 2022 – Shokunin – Values and Purpose (Mission)

Reading Bob Igers’ book “The Ride of a Lifetime”, I came across an interesting concept, Shokunin – the “endless pursuit of perfection for a greater good”. According to Wikipedia the Shokunin “has an obligation to work his best for the general welfare of people”[2]. This concept resonated with me as it is a good reminder that we are in business beyond just generating revenue, profits, margins, etc.

Phil Knight, Nike’s founder, says it best:

“business was no more about making money than being human is about making blood… But that day-to-day business of the human body isn’t our mission as human beings. When you make something, when you improve something, when you deliver something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers, making them happier, or healthier, or safer, or better… (When) you’re helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, all right, call me a businessman.”

Having strong values and purpose beyond just making money, i.e. a compelling mission, is becoming more relevant today. According to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey “younger generations want to work for companies with a purpose beyond profit—companies that share their values—and that they feel more empowered to make a difference as part of organizations.”[3]

Shokunin reminds us that we are in business, one way or another, to improve the lives of others. In the end, we are humans, and as Jim Collins points out we have a fundamental need to belong to something that we can feel proud of.[4] Maybe that is why the After-Action Reviews are my favorite part of a simulation course. Why are you in business?

[1] https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/?ref=openverse

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artisan#Shokunin

[3] https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/2021-deloitte-global-millennial-survey-report.pdf

[4] Drucker, Peter F.. The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization (J-B Leader to Leader Institute/PF Drucker Foundation) (p. 20). Wiley. Kindle Edition.