This interview continues our discussion with systems consultant Kohei Kiyotake, adding Yuki Furuya from international sales to the conversation. As Scenario Ambassadors of Yokogawa's Future Co-creation Initiative, they absorb vast amounts of information, determine directionality, and dig deep into the details to formulate future scenarios. How did they overcome the many challenges accompanying the creative process? Moreover, what did they learn through their participation, what values did they rediscover, and what aspirations do they now hold?
Future scenarios incorporating English from the outset
The Future Co-creation Initiative scenarios began with a draft created by Yokogawa's Scenario Ambassadors. The draft was completed in collaboration with Frost & Sullivan, a US-based research consulting firm maintaining its global network. The original version was created in English for the worldwide audience, while a Japanese version is also available. Scenario Ambassador Yuki Furuya helped lead the creation of future scenarios. Furuya works in international sales, focusing on conventional power and renewable energy and proposing solutions to help realize a global carbon-neutral future. Working mainly in English, he offers clients various services, including planning and marketing.
Furuya describes what motivated him to join the Future Co-creation Initiative. “One major incentive was a broader perspective, somewhere I could interact with individuals in and beyond the company. In my daily work, we usually view business on a time axis of one to three years. Yet looking to the far—not the immediate—future, how could I collaborate with stakeholders I don't normally meet? I thought the Initiative activities would allow me to search within myself and answer that question.”
Furuya helped lead future scenario creation from a global perspective
The future scenarios announced in 2022 by Yokogawa, a solutions provider for plants and development sites, were produced from an industry-wide global perspective. Furuya reflects on the rationale for creating the original version in English rather than Japanese.
“As we wanted the dialogue to be open to the entire world, we felt it should be created from an international viewpoint, necessitating content in English. Had the original language been Japanese, the process of creating expressions and scenarios would have reflected a Japanese orientation. We worried such barriers would remain even after translating the scenarios into English and would prevent us from achieving a successful global dialogue.”
”Birthing pangs”—dodging many obstacles to create future scenarios
The future scenarios were drafted in about two years through repeated updates and consultations with external advisors, mainly from the United States, Europe, and Asia. The scenarios also included input from senior Yokogawa management and Waseda University's Governance & Sustainability Research Institute, sources with a rich understanding of global trends. However, accomplishing the finished product was no simple matter.
“Although our concept of the future in 2035 existed in the original Japanese, we needed to explain the path of considerations that led to our scenarios and tailor them on a global scale. The future scenarios envisioned by external advisors and our team were not identical, so our first move was to align the two concepts. Not an easy matter, even when communicating in the same language. Through extended dialogue, we struggled to find mutual empathy.”
Despite using English in his day-to-day work, Furuya found the process of fusing differing ideas into a single concept challenging.
Four future scenarios, created in English, sparking dialogue reflecting a global perspective (cited from the English version—Future Scenario 2035: A Journey Through Time)
“For every individual word, there were differing perceptions, usages, and background considerations—differing sets of understanding. Yet we needed to settle on a common perspective that would lead to beneficial dialogue and, ultimately, help us create future scenarios. We struggled greatly during this step of the process,” recalls Furuya.
Meanwhile, Kiyotake was also experiencing difficulties in achieving a shared consciousness. “One worry was that since I normally think in Japanese, I had no way of knowing whether my future worldview was being correctly expressed in English. Another concern was that the external advisors for the English version joined midway. This delay created a time lag between their understanding and ours, as we had been working on this for two years.”
How could the final scenarios fuse the two concepts, one backed by the Yokogawa team's deeper time investment and one contributing a global perspective developed by external professionals? Completing the task within a limited time while communicating in English took great pains.
Systems consultant Kohei Kiyotake—a theorist in command of facts and data
The value Yokogawa shares with the world
The first fruit borne by the Future Co-creation Initiative following struggles and experimentation was the receipt of “Japan's HR Award 2021” (Corporate HR category), hosted by Nihon no Jinji-bu, the largest HR network in Japan, under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The award sparked public acclaim as well as considerable media attention in areas such as human resource development and sustainability.
What is the distinctive value these activities have to offer? Furuya offers his insight on the value the Initiative produced.
“We did not seek attention for our company; rather, we tried to spark global interest in thinking about the future. In fact, I consider the presentation of our future worldview and platform—in other words, our 'future road map'—as our fundamental value. We let the world know that our actions weren't about expanding business relationships, but rather taking the dialogue network beyond the scope of business with the wish to co-create a better future.
“We also found value in starting from zero—studying, researching, and discussing to create a final product. We millennials were depicting the future for ourselves. The next step was releasing our future scenarios publicly and encouraging open discussion. This was a unique approach.”
Overcoming challenges to produce Future Scenario 2035: A Journey Through Time—Navigating the highly uncertain future and co-innovating tomorrow (English version)
“However, there is a limit to what we can do alone. We found the need to increase collaborators, reaching out within and beyond the company to grow together and take on the future. Our future scenarios were highly praised, because this combination of collaborators was our starting point.”
“I think people were surprised that Yokogawa, a company operating in a niche field with a modest public profile, shared its own clear future road map,” says Kiyotake, interpreting Yokogawa's unique value. “It is also unusual to operate across wide-ranging industries with various companies, both as customers and as suppliers. Leveraging our experience to consider the future from the perspective of many industries is extremely valuable.”
Empathy for viewing events in a changing world leads to personal growth
The future scenarios crystallized with input from many Future Co-creation Supporters and Partners within and beyond the corporate sphere. How does Furuya feel about the change he has undergone through dialogue and participation in the Future Co-creation Initiative?
“In short, I gained perspective on the external environment. I needed to consider my own work in working on Future Scenario 2035, of course, but also external environments I normally don't consider, such as politics, economics, the environment, and technology. The process required me to internalize and apply considerable information. Through this process, I have grown—I have become able to analyze the external environment while determining the actions we should take.
“In these uncertain times of radical change, I frankly believe that if we don't consider our daily work as well as what is happening in the world and recognize other viewpoints while maintaining a corresponding Yokogawa future worldview, we cannot function in our work or daily life.”
Increasing dialogue through the shared language of future scenarios
Finally, Furuya addresses his future aspirations for the Initiative. “Despite the wish to engage with others, dialogue among individuals spanning nations, generations, industries, and sectors does not always mesh. And their take on results can be completely different. The only way to harmonize differing views is through repeated discussion, which requires a shared language. Future scenarios offer us this shared language and welcome others in frank dialogue. I look forward to broadening my world and finding more contact points where I can interact with new people.”
Kiyotake and Furuya: engaging with new individuals within the company and beyond
These future scenarios, created by 20-some members, provided the basis for elevating activities to a global level. In other words, this crystallization of collective intelligence was realized through the collaboration of Future Co-creation Supporters and Partners, who fine-tuned them through extensive dialogue.
Kiyotake agrees with Furuya's view, stressing that further points of contact are essential.
“Future Co-creation Initiative activities embody the collective strength of all participating members. Furuya and I took on the role of crystallizing that power. We think expanding the dialogue to include the younger generation and individuals with whom we've had limited contact, from both Yokogawa clients and in-house departments, would add great value to discussions about the future.”
Scenario Ambassador, Future Co-creation Initiative
Expertise: international sales (energy & sustainability)
Hobbies: music—both playing and enjoying
Scenario Ambassador, Future Co-creation Initiative
Expertise: systems consultant, business transformation
Hobbies: reading and meeting people
Future Co-creation Initiative Menu
Top page of Yokogawa’s “Future Co-creation Initiative”
Our collaborators discuss the value and meaning of “Future Co-creation Initiative” from various perspectives.
Introduction of our next-generation leadership development and a co-creation network beyond the scope of business.
Background and aspirations behind launching co-creative activities in an age without clear answers.
Future scenarios generated by young leaders of the future through scenario planning and co-creative dialogue.
Introduction of Scenario Ambassadors—representatives selected from each Yokogawa department enjoying growth and learning.
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