Nov 27, 2021


Opening up the team potential through an honest assessment of strengthsand weaknesses of yourself and team members

Overcoming the past of following others’ opinions too much, and finding his own way of working

  • the Hydrogen Energy Power Train Development Dept.Masataka Deguchi

    Masataka Deguchi is in the Hydrogen Energy Power Train Development Dept. of the Energy Solutions Development Div. He joined DENSO in 2009 and was assigned to the Engine Control Components Eng. Div. He was involved in various projects such as launch of products for overseas customers, design of spark plugs, and systems development there, and was transferred to his current department in 2021. With his natural sociability, he has developed an interest in psychology such as human development theory and Theory U, and studied them independently.

Masataka Deguchi was continuously involved in technical development for the first 13 years with the company. However, mid-career, he realized that "only by continuing to meet the expectations of those around me could he be recognized and stay and be connected to the people around him." Here, he tells the story of how he overcame his obstacles.

Contents of this article

    Overcoming dependence on others to appreciate my own uniqueness and enjoy my job

    I think that completing a project is a lot like climbing a mountain. Every member of a project has their own thoughts, each to their own, just like everyone has their own idea of which mountain they want to climb, which route they want to take and how they want to climb.
    All of us have experienced such conflicts as every member has their own opinions on the best approaches to the projects or some of the members refuse others’ requests because they are too busy with other tasks, and such conflicts come from different values of the members.

    At that time, good relationships among members in which it is easy to talk and they trust each other help the team overcome their challenges and complete the projects successfully.
    Even if individual ideas differ, everyone will be pursuing the same goal and working to complete the project. Therefore, it’s important to establish relationships among us that enable us to perform at our best.

    I really enjoy climbing mountains with my fellows talking each other and devising a way to reach the tops even if I cannot do it by myself.
    Doing everything and succeeding on your own is admirable, but I feel it much more fun and rewarding to work together with a team in order to reach a project’s “summit” and then celebrate it with them.

    I have an experience that I felt it was important to face myself in whatever I did.
    Though I did my job as expected, I did not find it rewarding. That’s because I had focused solely on living up to others’ expectations, ignoring my own feelings and desires. By basing my working style on others’ decisions and standards, I lost sight of what was important for me.

    Being aware of the importance of listening to my own thoughts by excessive dependence on others and my resultant fatigue

    I used to try too hard to earn the approval of my supervisor who had always looked out for me. I would always agree with what he said, and I did not value my own ideas and opinions.

    Simply put, it was not too much to say that I worked caring solely about what others thought of what I did.
    When things didn’t go well, I would blame circumstances. I felt like I couldn’t change anything, which was really difficult and tiring, and I ended up losing sight of the things that were most important to me. As I continued working in this way, I eventually could not trust others around me and felt lonely when I noticed it.

    I found others around me facing the same difficulties, and wondered how they were able to cope with their difficulties.

    My experiences encouraged me to start searching for a new working style that I could accept. I decided not to take what others say at face value, but to think them by myself in order to have my own ideas, and make them my driving force of my work. And in order to realize it, I also decided to listen to my heart and to know what I’d like to do.
    (I spent time learning about the concept of “mindfulness” as a training to face myself as above.)

    At first I tried to stop what I was doing from time to time and to ask myself whether I was relying on others’ opinions, or whether I had properly expressed my own ideas to others.
    When I was a little used to doing it, I could realize what condition my heart was in at that time or what preconception I tended to be influenced by.
    Even when someone said anything to me, I did not cower reflectively or talk back to them emotionally, and I could see my emotion objectively and say to myself, “I get irritated now.” or “Something like this has bothered me.”

    In addition, because listening to my own thoughts put my mind at ease and helped me think more clearly, I became able to listen to and watch the other person carefully. I always try to receive the true meaning of what the other person says and understand it well.

    By gradually unifying each of my thoughts with my actions in this manner, I began to feel better about myself, and could make progress without depending excessively on others.

    Listening to yourself and others can open up new possibilities

    By listening to your own thoughts and feelings, you can better identify your own strengths and weaknesses. And I think that you need the courage to open yourself up to others, including your weaknesses, then you can utilize their strengths in order to effectively do your job as part of a team.
    If you show yourself including your weakness, then you can bring out others strength. I try to avoid pretending I can do what I cannot with an inflated sense of responsibility or pride.

    I was a member of the choir club when I was a student, and I felt that it’s impossible to create beautiful harmony on my own. Each person’s voice has its own characteristics and qualities, and plays their own role. Some members play the core part of the choir with main melody, the part to integrate the core part in order to keep them unified, that to play the base melody and support the whole choir, and that to enhance the depth of music with their chord.
    We could make better choir for people to listen to only after we could play each role well in our choir.

    I think that new possibilities broaden only after we cooperate and use our strengths to compensate for mutual weakness and it applies to the teamwork on our jobs as well.

    That’s why it’s important to be open with not only myself but others regarding to both our strengths and weaknesses.
    When somebody asks me for help, I stop what I’m doing, face him/her, look at his/her eyes, and try to understand his/her background behind his/her words. No matter how busy I am, I always try to listen to them attentively not only with my ears but with my whole body in order to feel their world from their perspectives.

    As for my own weaknesses, I know I am short-tempered and self-centered at times, and also tend to avoid facing reality when I’m afraid of failure.
    And as I have many skills and techniques to learn, I ask for help from experts in unfamiliar fields or from those with perspectives different from me.

    On the other hand, I have the skill to feel empathy and to understand others’ feelings. When I see my colleagues worried about something, I’ll talk to them to ask what’s wrong with them, and try to put myself in their shoes to support them with what they need.

    We can do what I cannot do myself by respecting not only myself but also others.

    My thoughts are my foundation. Hoping for a future where everyone can fully express themselves at work

    I still care about my fellows who shared with me both good and bad times in my projects.
    Some of them have already left DENSO, but we still keep in touch as friends.

    It is common at work to focus on our results and performances, but we rarely touch on what we are, our thoughts and our state of mind though the results and performances are based on them.
    However, it is important to face oneself to acquire the results and abilities, and I’d like to create the places around me such as my fellows and colleagues, where we learn how we should be and our mental aspects.
    By creating opportunities for my fellows to think about their own thoughts, which is a skill I have learned through my experiences, I hope to make greater contributions to them.

    My goal is to foster an environment in which everyone is satisfied with their own actions and decisions, and can express themselves fully at work. That’s my vision for an ideal future.

    Deguchi once followed others’ opinions too much in order to live up to their expectations, and lost sight of himself.

    He says that he doesn’t think it negative to live up to others’ expectations, and that it is important to face himself and to step forward with himself convinced of his own actions.

    Many of us feel pressured to play our social roles, and thus Deguchi’s philosophy of being open and honest with both himself and others is truly refreshing for us.


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