Our Company Philosophy: The TokyoMate Playbook - Updated

Our Company Philosophy: The TokyoMate Playbook - Updated

It’s been just about 6 months since I took over as CEO of TokyoMate. Among the articles and books I absorbed during this period, “Atomic Habits” and “Don’t Shoot The Dog” left quite an impression on me. I’ve used key takeaways of those books to hack my own behavior and mindset in a surprisingly effortless way.

I always liked doing sports (tennis, soccer, etc.), but I hated running, even though I knew it would be a very sustainable, low-cost healthy habit to have. Now, I not only do early morning runs every second day, I actually love it! That made me think. How can I apply those brain hacking techniques to a whole team? Which in turn made me rewrite some sections regarding how to constantly improve our own operations - the updated Playbook is still not perfect, still with many redundancies and unclear wordings, but it’s better. And that sort of is the whole point: seeking constant progress.

So here is The TokyoMate Playbook - updated.

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

  • There is no such thing as "intelligent design" or a “master plan strategy” . 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 better results.

  • There is always a direct connection between details and better results. 

  • In other words, keep on building up our team's inventory of skills and resources that lead to faster, more accurate, more impactful execution—finding & defining processes and action plans that repeatedly achieve better results are what become our team’s valuable know-how—our asset.

4. Hack our own habits towards progress. 

  • Our measure of success is in the score—in terms of “revenues - costs = profits.” Hence, we have to keep score, but we cannot control 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 influence the end result (the score).

  • That’s why we have to track score, deconstruct our own actions into small pieces, understand how each piece influences the score, then continuously adjust (a) the course and (b) the quality and quantity of our actions, and make those actions that reliably deliver better results into our habits—and the score takes care of itself.

  • To make anything into a habit, start with very achievable targets, but then do it consistently, reduce or erase any hurdles or obstacles to that action, and link that action to an existing habit. 

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. 

  • Never be shy or proud to ask for help or advice from others. 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, why we do it, and how we do it. Be specific about 5W1Hs

  • Because the more we are in sync with each other, the better we understand how we can help each other (and vice versa, how to avoid causing problems or headaches to each other).

  • The more we can 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 everyone’s energy 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, always start out by explaining the bigger picture, the overall context of an issue, and explain the basic underlying assumptions when you communicate. 

  • 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 end up in a position where we are 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 and customers. 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 gifts and interests and energies to the fullest to enjoy this game of business. But never forget that we are playing—because innovation only happens where people are playful. 

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