Table Speech


Challenge of Shizenkan University Graduate School for Establishing New Leadership Education

October 10, 2018

Dr. Tomoyoshi Noda
Founder & Chair, Shizenkan University


 For 15 years since the latter half of my 20s, I have been learning and teaching Strategic Management in business schools in the USA and Europe. I am so-called a child of MBA, and was always harboring suspicion if business school education in the world would really produce world leaders. 18 years ago, at the age 40, I came back to Japan and launched nonprofit organization ISL, Institute for Strategic Leadership from scratch, and conducted “Beyond MBA” education.

 3 years ago, I started preparation for Shizenkan, a graduate school for leadership education focused on “whole person leadership” necessary to catalyze social and business innovation for the people of the world. The name Shizenkan was taken from Confucian Scriptures and it was authorized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology both in Japanese and English. In August 2018 the school started in the upper floor of new annex of Takashimaya Department Store in Nihonbashi, the traditional business center. We are facing various challenges every day.

 Now that we are at a major turning point of once in 100 years, such a school is indispensable considering the future prospects. Business schools across the world, including top-placed Harvard Business School, are all confronting a dilemma. American style business schools symbolized leadership education in the 20th century. It functioned well during the economic growth period of mass-production and mass consumption in the hierarchical vertical organizations. The focus has since shifted to sustainability, customized small production/consumption and the locally produced/consumed. In the development of ICT and sharing economy, the individual horizontal network and more humane cooperative relations based on sympathy and trust function much better.

 After 1000 years, the center of the world has shifted once again to China and the Silk Road is now reviving as “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Will the current education system be able to cope with such drastic environmental change? I am suspicious if conventional education can respond to such drastic environmental change. A new leadership education model to nurture global management leaders, using a holistic and humanistic approach is now needed including Oriental philosophy based on sound disciplines, instead of the conventional business school approach embodied in the 20th century.

 The start of our leadership education is not to lead others, but to lead ourselves. The core of our education is liberal art, by which we will acquire competence to ask ourselves: “Who are we, from where have we come and where are we going?” At the same time, we take the unique approach of design schools to sketch out one’s future, while prizing verification competency which used to be the strength of Western business schools. The key is how to combine the freedom of one’s independence which is a Western idea and harmony and coexistence with others which is an Oriental idea. We respect both global and local, capitalizing on the value, tradition, philosophy as well as the relation between business and society.

 The Faculty includes eminent scholars of sociology, religion, Western philosophy, Oriental philosophy or evolutionary biology.

 Shizenkan is aiming at a totally new direction respecting both global and local elements. Being global is a fantasy, as humans are living in the local community supported by community networks. Thus, we are going to perform global professional education in local Nihonbashi with many long-established stores from which we can learn for example the business concept of “sanpouyoshi”, meaning “benefit all three sides”, which teaches that the merchant should take into consideration the benefits of the customer, society and the vendor at the same time.

 Shizenkan has signed an agreement with IESE, a graduate business school in Spain, and the School of Inspired Leadership in India to jointly develop executive education programs. In May this year an International Conference “Innovative Startup Leadership Summit 2018” was held in Barcelona. In the USA business schools, law schools and medical schools are called professional schools. Though there are exams and licenses given by law schools and medical schools and the licenses can be withdrawn for deplorable actions, there are no exams and license given or withdrawable by business schools. What we are aiming at is the business leadership equivalent of “the Hippocratic Oath”, an ethical code that guides medical doctors.

 In next September, the second International Conference will be held in Japan and will challenge the realization of an inclusive and sustainable society merging the Western and Asian elements looking towards the 22nd century.

 It is not possible now to go without innovation anywhere in the world. Innovation, however, is just a means for the sake of human beings, not the aim. Business leader education of the world should be for the sake of future society based on respect of humanity. I believe that Japan could provide a bridge between Western rationality/professionalism and symbiotic society/respect of humanity which Japan has catalyzed for. If so, Japan will be once again the leader of the world through contribution to the global society.