Creativity Lessons from Japan

Tom Barrett
4 min readMay 28, 2021

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Welcome to your Friday dose of curated thoughts; my name is Tom Barrett. You are reading issue 218 of the Dialogic Learning Weekly newsletter.

In this week’s issue, I share creativity lessons from successful Japanese companies.

I stumbled on this mini-site by Chris Berthelsen called Patterns of Creativity in Japan during some recent research. Today I share three of the ideas that are part of the collection.

Job hoppers

Based on research originally produced for a Japan-focused research company, this website features short notes on how successful Japanese companies developed the creativity of their employees and organizations.

‘Mikansei’ (Incompleteness)+ The ‘Tataki-Dai’

A couple of connected ideas and strategies to get us started. One way we can foster more creativity in our teams is to seek feedback early when our work is painfully incomplete.

Encouraging employees to view products as incomplete gives them freedom to become “creative ‘artists’ who are encouraged to recreate products and services in new ways.” “Incompleteness is not seen as a sign of weakness, but as a window on future opportunities.”

The ‘Tataki-Dai’ (叩き台) means beating board. It is a springboard for discussion, a starting point to help work towards consensus. Using a Tataki-Dai is a safe way to present an emerging prototype to get feedback and support.

Never present ideas at 100% completion — set a lower limit such as 80%. This allows room for critique and development by limiting the threat of people becoming too protective of their ideas. As ideas are always ‘under construction’ people feel able to present more adventurous one without fear being looked at as incompetent.

This concept reminds me of the feedback strategies that I have developed and shared, including the 30% Feedback method.

The Work

  • Share your ideas and prototypes early and often.
  • Shift the perception of completeness.
Tom Barrett

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