Using The Kizashi Method For Social Innovation

By Hubert Yoshida posted 08-05-2020 19:13


Last month I posted a blog on the work that is being done by Hitachi Vantara in our Global Center for Social Innovation to obtain insights that will help in devising future solutions for the finance industry where the border between finance and other industries is becoming increasingly blurred. I wrote his under the title: Using PEST Analysis in the Development of Financial Solution Concepts. This introduced the concept of Hitachi’s “Kizashi” method to anticipate future changes in consumer values and to develop attractive services that will suit an era of social Innovation. I have received several queries on this method so I will try to further explain how this method is intended to work and how it is particularly suited for Hitachi’s R&D direction.


The Hitachi Design Division has developed the Kizashi method, not as a forecasting method that assumes continuity among the past, present and future, as typically represented by the Delphi method. It is more of a forecasting method similar to scanning because by detecting unforeseen factors, it seeks to discover what will be an ideal future form. An unforeseen factor is a “Black Swan”, an event like the Corona Virus for instance.


The scope of Hitachi's research and development (R&D) work has grown over the years in response to structural changes in industry. Founded in 1910, the company focused on R&D of products and operational technology (OT) such as motors, generators, and rolling stock after the creation of a research department in 1918. With the emergence of the IT sector in the 1960s, Hitachi responded by shifting the focus of its R&D work more toward information devices such as computers, servers, and storage devices. Since 2015, its R&D work has been experiencing another major transformation as further advances in digitalization have resulted in the worldwide popularity of work on Internet of Things (IoT) applications that combine OT and IT. Along with this transformation, the company also expanding the scope of its R&D by moving away from the traditional core of R&D for technological challenges, toward R&D for customer challenges and societal challenges. Figure 1 illustrates this trend.


 In the years ahead, Hitachi will need to respond to the major worldwide structural changes taking place in society by pioneering new Social Innovation Business areas based on social value, environmental value, and economic value. Crucial for achieving these goals will be expanding areas of application while bundling the various technologies it has accumulated and refined over its past century of R&D.


While Society 5.0 is a Japanese Initiative, it is tightly aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 Goals are all interconnected, and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve them all by 2030.


Society 5.0 is proposed as a future society that follows the hunting society (Society 1.0), agricultural society (Society 2.0), industrial society (Society 3.0), and information society (Society 4.0).


In the information society (Society 4.0), cross-sectional sharing of knowledge and information was not enough, and cooperation was difficult. Because there is a limit to what people can do, the task of finding the necessary information from overflowing information and analyzing it was a burden, and the labor and scope of action were restricted due to age and varying degrees of ability. Also, due to various restrictions on issues such as a decreasing birthrate and aging population and local depopulation, it was difficult to respond adequately. Social innovation in Society 5.0 will achieve a forward-looking society that breaks down the existing sense of stagnation, a society whose members have mutual respect for each other, transcending the generations, and a society in which each and every person can lead an active and enjoyable life.


The Kizashi method works by identifying dynamic social trends and determining what effects those trends will have on people so as to document the potential changes in consumer values that might result. The method is used to develop a common vision of the future with companies and other partners so as to collaboratively determine the best form for social systems and services that will power good. Specifically, it uses political, economic, social, and technological (PEST) analysis to identify external factors that will be present in the future and then determines the relationships these factors have with each other. Scenarios for changes in consumer values are then developed to identify “Kizashi” (Future Signs) that provide valuable insights for making sense of the future. Kizashi is a social science based approach to accumulating knowledge and to researching the make-up of values held by people in different countries. For more information on Hitachi’s Kizashi Method please see the following article.

Kizashi 25 Future Signs