We interviewed a representative to bring you Mogic's thoughts.
We asked him about "education," one of the goals of the SDGs.
It is a rich and long interview.
Mogic's Perspective on Education
How do we output in response to the inputs?
The fourth goal of the SDGs is "high-quality education for all," so I would like to ask Mogic about what is important to you in relation to education.
I heard that as part of the reform of the university entrance examinations, the questions have changed to the common test and now require the ability to think. On a personal note, I have a son who is in the third year of high school, so I see this as something close to home, but it seems that my son's high school is still giving him the same cramming type of education, and as a mother I have my doubts. What kind of education do you think is ideal and what kind of education is necessary to survive in the world of the future?
You are talking about a common test that focuses on the ability to think, unlike the Center Test until now. To begin with, based on past trends, major educational system reforms only occur once every 20 or 30 years. We want to measure students' ability to think from this common test, but since we are starting now with an eye on the next 20 years, I don't think we can suddenly change cramming education in schools. I think it remains to be seen how things will actually change in the field of education.
I think the important thing is that the government is thinking, as well, that Japan did well during its high-growth period. Japan's economy did well during the high-growth period, with heavy industries, factories, and exports. However, since the 1990s, things have not been going so well, and the growth rate has been low. I am not sure if this is correct or incorrect.
However, the environment has changed drastically, and I think there is an awareness that everyone needs to be able to make decisions according to the situation. Input-based education requires 100% output of the input. As a result, the output cannot be more than the input.
So what is the input? I say, what is being inputted is what has worked in the past. Even if the output is as close to 100% as possible, it is meaningless if the situation changes. In order to cope with new situations that have never existed before, the output must be more than 100% of the input. When I ask how to do that, I am told that one must not only output what is inputted, but also add one's own interpretation to it and create value. That is what I think.
So, the question is what to do with the output in response to the input, and we are now in a situation where we cannot face the future simply by inputting the past. So, I think we need to think about that.
To be able to choose many options for your future.
What kind of skills do you think children should acquire in the future?
What kind of ability should I acquire ...... "It's the ability to think!" (laughs). But that is not deep enough, so I would like to discuss specifically what kind of thinking skills we should acquire.
(This is a bit intertwined with the SDGs. When people ask me, "What is a quality education?" I think it is the ability to make many choices for one's future. It is very difficult to live in a situation where you feel hopeless because there is only such and such a future. However, it is very important to be able to think, "If I study like this, I might have such and such a chance, or I might get such and such.
I think one theme is how to educate people to think like that. For example, if you think, "I want to be a YouTube star," and try it for a little while. I think it's a matter of thinking, "I want to make a new choice here.
In this age of 100 years of life, there is no need to continue doing what you learned in your 20s until you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s. Why don't we just keep changing? That way, I feel like I am living with the times.
That's right. It is said that we are living in an age of 100 years, and it is becoming more important for adults to relearn and reskill. What kind of mindset should we have in the future?
Perhaps it is time to set goals for the 100-year period, say from now to 20 years from now. Because we don't know 20 years from now, and frankly speaking, we don't know even one year from now. It is difficult nowadays to make a to-do list and say, "Let's do this and get it done today for a year from now.
I think it is enough to do 15 minutes a day of "I need this today" or "I need this a year from now". It could be anything. If you are interested in something, for example, calligraphy, you can try to write one character a day. 30 days will make 30 characters, so when you reach 30, you don't know if you want to do more calligraphy, or if you want to go into ink painting or oil painting.
But in the process of writing 30 letters, there must be a realization. At that time, I think it would be good to think about it again. However, if we make everything solid at this point and think about 20 years from now, we have to take responsibility for the results until 20 years from now based only on our current decisions, don't we? I think that would be difficult.
We want to provide a platform that can support us in a pinch.
After the Corona disaster, the realization that the future is unpredictable has been reinforced.
(Our own brand of e-learning system) LearnO was introduced to many medical organizations, wasn't it? We used it quite a bit for the Corona Disaster. We can't become essential workers, but I think it was a system that could provide some support for essential workers, so I would like to provide a platform that can provide some support when everyone is in a pinch.
I think it is very similar to water or gas. Normally we don't pay much attention to it, but water has to be hygienic, right? I think it would be good if it were something like that.
Mogic became a box that everyone could put fun stuff in.
So you want to be a platform like water and gas. Then, what do you want Mogic itself to be?
Mogic itself was started by me alone, but after 10 years, I don't really feel that I own and manage the company. Everyone has their own unique characteristics and what they like about Mogic.
For example, (for Mr. M) it's a place where there are no naysayers and you can feel safe and happy, or (for Ms. W) it's a place where self-expression is accepted. Because it is such a container, I feel that it has become a box in which everyone can put what they enjoy, rather than feeling like it is their own company (laughs). (Laughs) I feel that we have become a place that makes people think that they might be able to achieve their dreams here that they could not achieve before.
I think that is a certainty.
I want this to be a place where you can realize things you would have given up on if you had stayed outside of Mogic. This is related to the beginning, but I want Mogic to be a place where you can expand your options, where you can find new enjoyment the more you do, and where you can discover that these possibilities exist within yourself. I think that is the way Mogic should be for those who want to work and those who are working.
From the perspective of society, if even a small number of people say, "I didn't know such a company could exist," "That's an interesting way of doing things," or "We want to think about it, too," then I think we are doing something useful. I believe that we are a company that has discussed and refined our own questions one by one, and reinterpreted and reworked them.
The interpretations were not copied from somewhere else, so I have no idea if the answers are correct or not, but I think they are one answer. I hope that the answer looks fun, and that we are a company that someone says, "Wow, that looks interesting," or "I didn't know there was such a way to run a company. What I'm answering from the beginning is the result of thinking about how to make sure that potential and possibilities expand into the future. This is based on the question, "What should we do to open up the future" for everything, including the company and its services.
Mogic and the Beginning of Education
Let's build a small but creative and global company.
What made you decide to create Mogic in the first place? What vision did you have when you started Mogic?
It was the very first, wasn't it? I was taking a leave of absence from my master's program to make films or draw pictures, and rather than going on to a doctoral program, I wanted to live a little more freely in my own way, or rather, I wanted to make things in society. When I was thinking about finding a job and looking at various companies, I couldn't picture myself 20 years from now.
I thought I would have to ride crowded trains, I thought I would have ties to the company if I became a big shot, I thought I would have to wear a suit, and I thought there was a possibility that I would be doing something I didn't want to do. So, at that time, I already had a concept in mind: 20 years from now, I wanted to build a small but creative company that would be able to communicate with people on a global scale. So, when I graduated from graduate school at the age of 25, I already had that idea in mind.
But I thought it would be difficult to start a company out of the blue, so I wrote down what I lacked to start a company. I wondered where I could go to learn what I lacked, so I looked for companies and joined them one by one, changing jobs as I went along. While doing the things I wanted to do, I decided at the very least what I wanted to learn at this company before I went there. That is why I did not only work in my own department, but also in other departments on my own.
For example, what kind of things?
For example, at my previous company, I was a planner, so I should have just done planning work, but I was allowed to get involved in a bit of corporate acquisition work, and I got along well with people in the legal and accounting departments and tried to work with them. I thought that if I were to run a company in the future, it might be difficult to make large capital transfers. I managed to fill in the gaps over a period of about five years, and finally started my own company when I was over 30 years old.
When I left the company before starting my own business, I had about 100 subordinates, so it was a difficult environment for me to quit (laughs). (Laughs) I was proud of having led the company so far, so I felt sorry for everyone and wanted to make sure I could finish the job to the very end. In the end, I acquired a company and was able to take over the company. Six months later, I renewed the website of the acquired company, and the next day I said, "I'm quitting. I had been working almost without a break, so I used about two months of my paid time to prepare for starting my own business.
The three visions I had when I started my business were
What vision did you have when you started your business?
Since I started the company on my own, I wanted to make it the way I wanted it, or rather, I wanted to erase all the things I didn't like about the company in general. I also wanted to see if I could erase them. There are things like not wanting to ride on crowded trains, not wanting to swear or talk behind someone's back, pulling each other down, strange work flow, lots of unnecessary work, services that you don't know if they are really useful for people or not, money-making first, and so on. There are also services that may or may not be truly beneficial to people, and there are also services that seem to put money first. I had many such doubts, so I wanted to eliminate them one by one.
Second, I wanted to create a company that would create new value. What I mean by that is that I wanted to create a company that creates new value. I thought it was valuable and creative to make other people think, "I don't know what it is, but it's exciting," "it looks fun," "the people working there are sparkling," and "the products they are making look interesting. I had a vision of creating such a company.
Third, since the company was to live in the 21st century, I wanted to try to do what was most needed there. The birthrate is declining and the population is aging, so education, health, and medical care are especially important. They are absolutely needed in the basic areas, so it's not a place to make too much money or anything like that. Education, health, and medical care are different in part, but overall they are not very profitable sectors. It is a public sector.
So it helps people and you have to work on it for a very long time. I knew it was not a field where the company would grow explosively. On the contrary, because it is a very difficult field, I thought it would be a place where I could work on it for a long time, and where I could most easily demonstrate my creativity. Because it is difficult. That was my vision. I had those three things, but I had not yet decided what I was going to do.
How did you translate your vision into services?
I started by myself and met Fujii, the CTO and engineer, along the way. In the beginning, I didn't really know what to do, so I looked at popular services and did various things while receiving work from clients as contracted development. I was doing a lot of different things while looking at popular services and taking on work from clients.
We said, "We'll create anything that looks interesting," and while we were creating it, we were checking what we should do. We happened to have an opportunity to create an educational system for a medical school, and we thought, "This is it! I thought, "This is it. Smartphones had just come out, and the market for smartphone support for services was totally behind, and I thought that the market was going to grow, and that education using more and more IT power would be important. That's how I started LearnO.
Education in Mogic
In-house training typical of Mogic is to give good feedback.
Next, tell us about Mogic's internal training. I personally feel that feedback is very important. What kind of training is unique to Mogic that is offered in-house?
If someone does not output something, feedback cannot be given, right? As mentioned at the beginning, Mogic is not an input-type educational institution, so we ask students to give us everything they have. We try to make them give us everything they have, even if they don't understand it well or may be embarrassed to do so.
For example, in the MicroTech internship program, which takes place once every three months, we have the interns come up with an idea for a product. Even if they say, "I don't know," I tell them, "Let's do the relay of ideas we always do, one by one, and we'll go around five times! Five rounds! When I say my idea, if it is interesting, someone else will follow it and say, "My idea was interesting! You get feedback like, "Oh, my idea was interesting! and you get feedback. And then you get feedback from others who say, "I didn't know you had that point of view! I get a lot of feedback on my idea, and I get a lot of feedback on my idea, too. I think MicroTech is a unique training program for interns.
When I ask what the employees are required to do after joining the company, I have them give a short talk in about 10 minutes at the beginning of a meeting. It looks easy at first glance, but it is actually quite difficult. If you talk about what happens every day, you will soon run out of topics. So what I do is to think about what I can say in my daily life that will be popular with everyone. What would be interesting for that person if I said something like that?
That's why I felt I had to output something for people. Because we output something for them, they will be happy with it, or they will say it was boring. Then I give them feedback that "we are not dealing with machines, we are dealing with people.
People's reactions will differ from this week's reactions to next week's reactions even if we try to give the same reactions, so how do we give feedback to something that is shaky? So, how do you give feedback to something that is blurring? In a sense, it is a process of finding the best answer each time, even though the situation is changing very rapidly, so I think it is similar to the education I mentioned earlier. Talking with people is very uncertain.
Training for managers is a little different. The role of uniting many people is the most important, so I ask them to report once a week on how their team members are feeling and how they are doing. But I also receive comments from leaders in other departments, such as, "That person is a bit strange," or "He said something like this at a certain time, and it's bothering me. There are parts of a team that are hidden from view. By having a leader from a different department give me a different perspective on a member, I learn that there are many different angles from which to view people. That's the kind of feedback I'm talking about.
Focus on how much you can create a little excitement.
What do you consider important when creating services, and what do you put into your services?
I think services can be created with web design, programming, and the latest trends. Simply put, you can create a login screen, a user screen, and an administration screen. But I didn't really want to create something like that.
In the end, I wanted to create something that, even if it did not reach the users, had a story, a hypothesis, a dream of how we wanted the product to work, or a blank space, or even a vision of what would happen next. Like the creative process I mentioned earlier, we are particular about how much we can create something that is exciting, fun, and easy to use, something that people have never seen before. So when I design a product, I ask in detail what kind of story, what kind of worldview, and what kind of feelings I want people to have when they use the product, much to the designer's chagrin. That's how I ended up in hell (laughs).
In the case of LearnO, it took Fujii only a week or two to develop the product, but it took him four months to design it.
Create products to maximize potential
Is it the first LearnO?
This is the first LearnO. We had talked about what a Japanese-style web design should be, and we couldn't come up with five or six design ideas. We couldn't come up with an answer, so I took the designer to a high-end kaiseki restaurant to see if he could give us a hint. The bowl served there was a dull gold color. I got a hint from that and thought, "The subdued gold color is very Japanese," and LearnO's gold was born. I think that was the moment when Mr. U's original goodness was unleashed and combined with Japaneseness. We have to capture such coincidences, and we have to create products that maximize the potential of people, so it takes a lot of time and effort. It took more than a year just to rebrand the management screen.
It would be nice to be able to measure the quality and quantity of laughter
Last but not least, if you look at the SDG poster, you will see that the 18th section is left blank. What would you like to put there?
I think it would be good to "increase the quality and quantity of laughter."
And the quantity, too (laughs).
And quantity, too. I don't think it is enough just to have a lot of laughs. There is such a thing as a dry or cold laugh, so the quality of the laughter must also be improved. We want laughter to be positive and bursting with energy toward the future. But I also want them to be frequent. I've been listening to them since this morning. The sound of laughter is coming through the staircase, so it's like, "Oh, the second floor is laughing, the third floor is laughing, and that part of the fourth floor is laughing," and it's all over the place.
When they are connected online, they are laughing at the same time, and when they are not connected, they are laughing apart, but I think there is a rich variety of laughter. I think that is a good atmosphere. For example, in a place where there is such quality and quantity of laughter, is it possible that the workplace is not very friendly?
No, there is not.
If we were in a scene all the time, we might not get along, but if we laugh that often, we usually get along. If we can laugh at something, it means we are moving toward the future. Laughter is difficult, but I hope it can be measured.
I feel every day that it must be hard to come to work and smile like this. Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you very much.
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