Today's Notables

How do you move the human psyche ?

March 2006
Hisashi Furuichi
President and C.E.O.

NHK has recently started a new program called "The Professional: School of Thought about Work." The preceding program, "Project X" aired a spot which was very popular, addressing issues regarding current and future "professionalism". NHK's home page says that the program delivers the information you need for your job on the frontlines today, for a new, vital approach tomorrow. The first in the series was with Yoshiharu Hoshino, president of Hoshino Resorts.

I have met him several times, so naturally I was very interested in the show. Not only is he known for developing instructors about the ecological systems of Bridal and Picchio (Italian for woodpecker) but he is trying to turnaround the resort and elder hostel he took over from his father, which is currently in bankruptcy. During the program, he said that he was able to revive the elder hostel business, while he bought out large resorts such as Kobuchizawa Rizonare, Bandai Resort, and Alpha Tomamu and restructured them.

Hoshino Resorts, located in Karuizawa, was established 100 years ago or two generations earlier than the current president. The past generation saw a period of high economic growth so if one was able to maintain what they inherited, things usually turned out in the end. But for the current president that has not been the case.

The first time I met Mr. Hoshino was about 7 years ago. What really got my attention was his understanding of marketing. He is a master at creating a new market and selling what hasn't been sold before. After asking about his business, I remember thinking that that's exactly what marketing means. If you want to bring more people to an inn which is normally a family destination, you make it attractive for weddings, for example. Most stores close in the winter in Karuizawa so if the inn alone is not enough of a draw, you have to use something like Picchio wildlife research to give added value. It is that ability to develop the concept and implement a plan that turns a weakness into a strength which sets marketing experts above the rest.

The program was focused on how he motivated employees. He said the most important tool is the concept. The show highlighted how Mr. Hoshino got employees involved in the creation and development of the concept. "Employees are the main players in this story." "They are the ones that make the decisions." These two concepts sum up Mr. Hoshino's management policy. He also emphasized the importance of looking from the same perspective of the customer. If you can then replace yourself with the corporation, the concept then becomes the mission of the company or the image of what your customer wants you to be. If you are not absolutely clear on this aspect, it is extremely difficult to motivate employees.

At the end, the interviewer, neurologist Kenichiro Mogi said that the human brain responds and is motivated when stimulated by positive experiences. When employees are empowered to make decisions, play them out and reap the satisfaction of achieving the desired results, a positive response is created, causing more activity in the brain.

"Hoshinoya" opened last year in Karuizawa.
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