Human Resources to Translate into Assets
Creating New Value
Mitsui & Co. has created the Long-term Management Vision ("LTMV") to define a clear picture of its future. In the LTMV, the evolution of Mitsui's role from "connecting" to "creating" is positioned at the core of the company's pursuits. Essentially, Mitsui has its roots in the work of creating new business and business models. That said, in the past, our functions and roles as a general trading company have often centered on the creation of value through "connecting" companies, products, and other elements. The LTMV sets out our determination to evolve beyond that pattern into a company that proactively "creates" business.
We see our relocation to our new Head Office building not simply as a change in our working environment, but as an important opportunity to accelerate the changes that will allow us to realize our envisioned goals as set forth in the LTMV.
In August 2018, we established Moon Creative Lab Inc. ("Moon") to develop and incubate new business for the Mitsui & Co. global group. Moon's Palo Alto headquarters is located at the world epicenter of innovation, in America's Silicon Valley. Its base in Japan is the WeWork shared office space in Meiji Jingumae, where it offers next-generation work styles and office environments.
Moon's mission is to create a future vision for Mitsui by building new business from the ground up. Moon provides an environment and functional capabilities for this "0→1" process, i.e. the process of forming totally new business that provides solutions to specific social issues, thereby accelerating our evolution.
Moon seeks business ideas from the 44,000 Mitsui & Co. global group employees. Ideas contributed from the frontline of business around the world are enhanced through dialogue with Moon's operating teams. The criteria for the selection of ideas take the form of questions posed to the employees who submit the ideas. For example, "Will your idea result in business that creates new value for society?" "Will your idea alleviate problems affecting large numbers of people and contribute to well-being?" "How will your idea solve a social issue?" "Does the business that you have presented have a vision for the future and a scenario for the achievement of that vision?" "Is there a project leader with the ability, commitment, and passion to thoroughly carry out your project?" Questions such as these clearly reflect the values of Mitsui. The final selection of projects for which commercial implementation will be initiated is made by the Moon Committee, which also includes external partners who are professional business designers.
Our Stories: Develop talent leading to value creation
SDGs: 4.4, 8.3
Mitsui has identified the reinforcement of innovation capabilities as one of the functions that drives the realization of its Medium-term Management Plan. We aim to achieve full digital transformation, whereby we digitize various information and data that exist in the business frontline and in society, and use digital power, including artificial intelligence, to classify, analyze, and control this information so that it can be utilized for the benefit of business and society. One of the steps taken to realize our digital transformation was the establishment of the DT Team within the Corporate Planning & Strategy Division in 2016 to accelerate the commercial development of new value by making full use of digital technology. In 2017, Mitsui, ahead of any other general trading company, appointed a Chief Digital Officer (CDO). The DT Team was formed by transferring around 15 people from the Information Technology Promotion Division, the IT & Communication Business Unit, and other business units into the Corporate Planning & Strategy Division. The DT Team's task is to work with business units to drive business innovation through digital technology.
Through the DT Team, Mitsui is working to reduce costs and increase sales via efficiency improvements and optimization, to enhance the quality of existing business, and at the same time to create new business models. Examples include the use of AI for such purposes as medical diagnosis, logistics route optimization, ticket price adjustment, and food demand forecasting.
We are also implementing DT initiatives within the company with the aim of achieving major improvements in the efficiency of day-to-day operations, energizing communication, and facilitating knowledge sharing and utilization. The first organizational structures to make the transition to fully paperless meetings using IT tools were the Board of Directors and the Corporate Management Committee. Various units have since enhanced the utilization of IT tools and shifted toward paperless operations. By January 2019, these efforts had resulted in a 26% year-on-year reduction in the amount of paper used to produce documents on copiers.
Mitsui is planning to move into its new Head Office building, which is scheduled to be completed in February 2020. Under a project called "Workplace Experience" ("Work-X"), we are considering a vision for workplace experiences in the new building, and the mechanisms needed to turn that vision into reality.
For example, one concept under consideration for the new building is the introduction of the group address system to support the flexible and mobile formation of teams according to operational and project requirements. Under the group address system, while specific areas are allocated to each organizational unit, employees can choose any desk or spot within those areas. This will allow employees to follow a task-oriented approach to work by selecting the locations in which they work according to their individual objectives. To encourage face-to-face communication, we are also considering the creation of inner stairwells connecting all office floors, and the establishment of communication zones where people naturally gather and ideas are actively generated. These measures and ideas will result in chance encounters within each floor and activate casual communication, thereby fostering a sense of unity among employees and triggering "intellectual chemical reactions."
Mitsui has defined the new Head Office building as an environment where Mitsui's diverse individuals produce a stir of "intellectual chemical reactions" with colleagues and partners inside and outside the company, generate a wave of changes, and create the future of Mitsui We see the relocation to the new building not simply as a change of address, but as an opportunity to accelerate innovation that contributes toward the realization of our LTMV.
Group Address Trial
We are currently conducting a trial of the group address system in order to verify the effects, including both benefits and issues, of introducing the system in the new Head Office building. Part of the existing furniture and equipment used in the office spaces of a number of units have been replaced with items suitable for the group address system. The results of this verification process are being shared within the company as information for use in the formulation of policies by organizations within the company.