Oct 10, 2023CAREER & LIFE
A step forward from the “Journey of self-reflection”.
A company-wide connection created by data utilization that transcends himself and organizational boundaries
Yoshinori Atake is in charge of promoting the use of data by DENSO employees, making use of the IT knowledge he has cultivated in his past career. A training session had Atake, who recalls that he used to have a passive attitude, break down his framework, and begin to proactively reach out to other departments/divisions. We will approach the trajectory that Atake has followed and the future that he imagines with his fellows.
Contents of this article
Looking for a place where I can utilize my acquired skills
──First, please tell me about the mission of your division.
Atake：The Digital Transformation Promotion Division receives consultations from DENSO employees for their work-related issues and supports them in solving the issues by using digital data.
In particular, the Data-Driven Management Transformation Dept, for which I am the general manager, has a mission to improve efficiency and speed of operations by supporting the employees in making decisions by using data.
──Atake-san, have you followed a career path in the field of data utilization?
Atake：Actually, no. Previously, I was involved in business development mainly related to network services at a foreign IT company and electronics manufacturer.
I became interested in DENSO because I wanted to be involved in business development by making use of my experience in the automobile industry as a place to take on the next challenge at a time when the entire automobile industry was experiencing a once-in-a-century period of change. That’s how I started.
──What did you feel when you joined DENSO?
Atake：After joining the company, I was assigned to a division that developed in-vehicle communication devices, etc. and was involved in a system development project using networks, but for some reason that project was discontinued.
After that, I was put in charge of project management for the development of communication device hardware, but I had no experience in the field, and just did my best with the work at hand every day.
I could make good connections with the people whom I worked with during the period, on the other hand, I was also a little skeptical that I might not be able to make use of the most of my skills and experience.
Under such circumstances, in 2020, I was transferred to the current division after being approached by a person who had worked with me on an in-house communication technology review, and I think I am currently making use of the skills and experience in my daily work that I have cultivated.
Think through what I can do in my current job
──Did the division transfer change how you faced your job?
Atake：It was certainly a turning point. However, I think the in-house management training allowed me to make a clear change.
The training was, in other words, a journey of self-reflection.
In the process of thinking about what I want to do, dissatisfaction with the current situation and my misfortunes always came to mind. At that time, the lecturer said, "I understand your feelings, but you still have what you can do even in your current job, don’t you?", and I noticed that I might not have done everything yet in my position.
After I realized that I did not feel that I quite took a step forward, I tried to ask my colleagues if they had any problems with their work. I changed my attitude toward my work that I did not support other divisions before they asked me to do so.
──The lecturer's words helped you realize your framework, didn’t they? Have the lecturer’s words ever led to your concrete actions?
Atake：I had a meeting with my colleagues from the Corporate Strategy Div. of my own will and it had me tackle their challenges.
I had known their efforts to their challenges, but when I listened to them in detail, I was astonished at what they were struggling with.
Specifically, it took a great deal of time for them to collect and analyze data.
They were in the division that played a central role in management, and they were extremely talented people from my perspective. I was very shocked to know that they were busy with such work though they should have worked on more creative tasks, and I couldn't help but weep.
I thought I had to change something, and I decided to take on improving the efficiency of data utilization in the Corporate Strategy Div. That following year, I began to tackle the challenge.
When I explained to the members what we could do beyond the framework of the organization, they strongly sympathized with me, and we decided to tackle the challenge by working in unity. Within about three months, we could build a system to make the entire project of the Corporate Strategy Div. more efficient by hundreds of hours per year.
Working beyond the requests has let us extend the scope of activities throughout the company.
──So you could build the system in about three months. Do you think that you tackled the challenge by working in unity?
Atake：Yes. The original purpose of the consultation was only to improve the efficiency of the operations of the Corporate Strategy Div. However, every member joined and took on the project from a higher point of view, and proactively discussed and considered with the division members to find what we could do other than what they asked us to do.
We found that operations of the Corporate Strategy Division have something to do with those of a variety of divisions such as the procurement divisions and the sales divisions by understanding the overall operations there. It meant that we could reduce the workload of more employees by rethinking how to do the jobs with total optimization.
Operations of the Corporate Strategy Div. have become more efficient, and it has spread to other divisions to give us more consultations. More than anything else, I'm happy that people say to us "Thank you" more often as a result of deepening our relationships with other divisions.
──As a result of working beyond the requests, your scope of activities has expanded throughout the company, hasn’t it? Now you can see the direction the team should be headed, can’t you?
Atake：I learned that I could contribute to the company in this way. I believe that the original purpose of utilizing data is not only to improve on-site operations but also to change management. We are aware that it is our mission to establish a system that enables data-driven decision-making in all workplaces, including management.
I would like to continue focusing on "supporting company-wide operations" through relationships with various divisions.
Mutual support beyond organizations and positions breaks down barriers
──Atake-san, is there anything you value in your team?
Atake：At the beginning of this year, as one of my New Year's resolutions, I told my team members, "Let's be considerate of each other." In many cases, we only scratch the surface of understanding what kind of work our colleagues are doing daily.
That is why I believe that we should ask our colleagues, "What are you having trouble with?" and think and solve problems together with them.
You can't help people who are really in need if you keep a distance from them. In terms of baseball, I think it's important to try to catch the ball even when it is unclear who should catch it whichever position you are at.
──As you change your mindset, please tell me about your role as a true leader leading the organization.
Atake：Currently, we have about 50 members in our division, and they are all positive and challenging. I thank them for helping me. I believe that a leader must act at their own will and lead a job but also know what they can do by themselves and rely on their colleagues if necessary.
But without psychological safety, it would be difficult to rely on each other. I think it is necessary to express our gratitude to each other first of all. That's why I try to make opportunities to talk with each member now.
I also try to create an atmosphere that makes it easy for my colleagues to talk to me. After all, I think it's easier to talk to someone who's always smiling, cheerful, and gentle-mannered, rather than someone who frowns at people and has few words. Sometimes, I feel down, but I try not to spoil the atmosphere for the team.
I would like to be a familiar boss with bright smiles my colleagues feel free to talk to me in trouble.
Changing your "Can'ts" into "Cans"
Where Knowledge and People Gather.