Our Philosophy: The TokyoMate Playbook

Our Philosophy: The TokyoMate Playbook

On June 1, 2021, Fuminori Gunji accepted the role of chief executive officer of TokyoMate. 

Fuminori Gunji was a founding team member of Softbank Robotics from 2013 to 2016, leading Softbank's domestic B2B businesses and overseas expansion efforts. In 2017, Fuminori Gunji headed business development for MakeLeaps. By the end of 2018, Gunji had successfully closed MakeLeaps’ M&A deal with Ricoh and went on to lead MakeLeaps in 2019 as COO.

In a finely focused address—and despite warnings that we would be exposed to his love of sports psychology—Gunji outlined a “playbook” of the necessary actions to achieve great things as a team, based on his years of spear-heading high-performing disruptive companies. 

Of course, “A playbook is not carved in stone. Just like a product, it may need changing from time to time,” Gunji explained. 

That’s true

But today, we’re thrilled to share a behind-the-scenes peek at how we’ll continue to provide excellence in service during our startup’s next stage of rapid growth. 

We’ll cut to the chase. 

Here is the TokyoMate playbook by Fuminori Gunji. Fitting advice for any startup or team looking to disrupt, innovate, and scale.  

1. It's not about us. We are vessels that convert market needs into products/services.

  • There is no such thing as "intelligent design" . Let's pay close attention to what the market and customers are signaling to us. What they ask for might not always be right, but there's always a good reason why they say the things they say. It's our job to listen carefully, understand the real problem, figure out a solution that is better than the current alternatives, and build it.

"It is the sea herself who fashions the boats, choosing those which function and destroying the others."Emile Chartier

2. Don't aim for perfection, aim for progress.

  • Any great product, service, or other forms of output starts with a small idea or a clunky draft version. The fastest way to progress is to share your draft, ask for help, and invite others to give feedback or contribute ideas. The best way to innovate is to spur frequent exchange, experimentation, imagination, investment (of effort), and to learn from our failures.

3. Relentlessly seek improvements.

  • Be aware that there is always a direct connection between details and improvements. 

  • In other words, keep on building up our team's inventory of skills and resources that would lead to improved execution—finding & defining processes that repeatedly achieve positive results at a high success rate are what become our team’s valuable know-how—our asset.

4. Focus on the things that are within our control.

  • Our measure of success is in the score—in terms of “revenues - costs = profits.” Hence, we have to keep score, but we cannot control all of it, we cannot just make it, we cannot chase it, because we cannot control customers (i.e., force them to buy or tell them what to want), competitors (i.e., control their prices or offerings), or trends.

  • All we can control are our own actions and habits, which in turn inevitably influence the end result (the score).

  • That’s why we have to continuously deepen our understanding of how our actions influence the score by measuring both, then continuously adjust (a) the course and (b) the quality and quantity of our actions—and the score takes care of itself.

5. Whatever the problem, be part of the solution.

  • Be a positive, proactive force whenever you discover a problem, regardless of whether it’s within your realm of responsibilities or not. 

  • Similarly, never be shy or too proud to ask for help or advice from others if you run into a problem. Your problem is always our company’s problem. We win and lose as a team.

  • If you don't know how to approach or solve a problem, sharpen the worst and best-case scenarios by 100x and it will reveal to you which direction is more favorable.

  • The more upstream we can solve the problem, the more effective the solution will be.

6. Be in sync with each other.

  • Let’s be great at sharing and explaining to each other what we do and why we do it. Let’s be specific about 5W1Hs

  • Because the more we are in sync with each other, the faster we all get a holistic understanding of the mechanisms and ecology (= relations of all stakeholders to one another and their surroundings) of our business, the more we will see a similar landscape of opportunities and challenges, the easier it becomes to agree on priorities (and things to de-prioritize), the better we can bundle and focus our resources on things that matter, the more effective we will be in building products/services that customers will love.

7. Always assume there is information asymmetry.

  • Regardless of whether you’re communicating with customers or with team members—it's rare that two parties are 100% on the same page. Thus, make an effort to explain the basic underlying assumptions and the WHYs when you communicate. 

  • Similarly, if you are not sure whether you understand what's being asked of you, don't fill the gaps with your own assumptions. Instead, ask questions about the other person's assumptions or their situation, or rephrase their statement in your own words, or provide a quick'n dirty sample output to see whether you’re on the right track.

8. Tell the truth, tell it fast, bad news first. Failing is an event, not a person.

  • We all make mistakes or happen to be in a position to be a messenger for bad news. It feels shitty, but it's OK. The longer you wait with bad news, the worse it gets, the harder it becomes to fix the problem. 

  • Ask yourself: What am I not saying that needs to be said? What am I saying that’s not being heard? What’s being said that I’m not hearing?

9. We are all dependent on each other—be respectful, be kind, but be demanding.

  • We are all playing a position in the field, trying to make ourselves useful for our teammates. We are all feeding off of each other. We all have a connection to and are an extension of everyone else in the team. 

  • The one who happens to "score the goal" (= achieves something worthy of praise) is just standing on the shoulders of the teammates, who “blocked an opponent's pass,” “captured that ball,” “passed it on,” and “assisted” the scorer.

10. Have fun! 

  • After all, business is just another game where the score is called “profits” or “growth.” 

  • Let's use each of our personal gifts and potential to the fullest to excel at this game of business. But never forget that we are playing—because innovation only happens where people are playful.  

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