The year 2022 has dawned with the hopes of 7.8 billion people.7Skies has started the new year that embraces a mixture of hope and anxiety, while for our customers in the transportation, tourism, and food and beverage industries, anxiety seems to have taken precedence over optimism. All of these industries are indispensable for the future of our country, as they propagate Japan’s fascinating culture and beautiful climate to the world. I hope that additional infection prevention measures and expansion of measures to prevent serious diseases will be implemented as soon as possible, and that the normalization of economic activities will be accelerated.
Since our foundation, our mission has been to contribute to global society through project management. In the course of our work, we often work on projects with members who are not acquainted with each other and have different languages and cultures. The backbone which enables such diversified group of people without sharing cultural root, without living closer, without common lifestyles, to come together and achieve the same goal is not only the developed technological infrastructure, but also the existence of a common project management framework represented by the PMBOK. This know-how, filled with the “wisdom” of overcoming differences and helping each other, is indeed a wonderful shared asset for humankind.
Recently, even for the domestic working environment, the opportunities to physically work shoulder-to-shoulder, knee-to-knee with others, have decreased dramatically. Remote work is becoming more and more popular, but there are still many cases where people are worried about working remotely, not being able to see the other person, or are concerned about inefficiency. I myself have seen the benefits of remote work, but for a decentralized organization like ours, where consultants usually provide services at their client’s site, the commuting time saved by remote work can be used for internal training sessions, etc., and it seems to me that the bonds between employees (in a virtual environment) have become rather strong.
However, in the high-context culture of Japanese society, if you don’t eat the same food (or breathe the same air), you can’t help but wonder if you can really communicate with each other. The greater the distance between someone and yourself, the greater the anxiety that the other person may be different from you. As Rutger Bregman wrote in his book, Humankind: A Hopeful History, “Distance makes people lash out at strangers on the Internet. Distance makes soldiers avoid an aversion to violence. (…) But if you choose the path of compassion, you will find that the distance between you and the stranger is very small. Compassion will make you cross boundaries, and eventually, the near and dear ones and the rest of the world will seem equally important.”
Remote work takes the person you used to see in front of you, the colleague next to you, away to the other side of the screen. On the Internet, it makes no difference whether you are in the same town, the same country, or on the other side of the world, you are still “over there”. (Okay, maybe in the metaverse, the concept of “over here” is also born!) This sense of distance seems to lead to the anxiety and distrust that surrounds remote work. If this results in a kind of division, remote work will become less attractive. Paradoxically, if we are able to show compassion (respect for differences) to those who feel distant from us because of language differences, differences in appearance, differences in nationality, etc., we should now show that same compassion to our colleagues who use the same language and look the same. We have a culture of hospitality for our international guests. If we accept the reality that we don’t know each other as we think we do, and that each of us is different, and if a mind of tolerance takes root, we will be able to create a more diverse society. The world of project management is also realizing the limitations of the “waterfall” approach, in which the client’s requirements are defined in advance, planned, and then executed, and the “agile” approach, in which the requester and the contractor deepen their mutual understanding as the project proceeds, is becoming the mainstream. Instead of division and confrontation, we should keep in mind interest and respect as we move forward.
I hope that remote work will lead to a more prosperous society, and I would like to actively promote it in our company. On the other hand, meeting others in person involves breathing and feeling which cannot be experienced in a meeting over the screen. When people encounter, they share their lives with each other, and as long as we live, there is nothing more precious than that. I would like to start the New Year by wishing for the resumption of active human traffic in both business and private life as soon as possible.
At last but not least, I would like to wish everyone a happy new year and continued prosperity.
President and Representative Director