IKI means “life, alive” and KAI “result, benefit”. As such, the Japanese concept IKIGAI can best be described as a reason for being“. We have been using the concept of Ikigai in our Personal branding and Pitching workshops to help individuals better focus on “why they do what they do“, and help them make smart(er) well-balanced personal and professional choices. In short, there are four ways of looking at what you are doing or could be doing:
– do what you love,
– do what you are good at,
– do what the world needs,
– do what you can be paid for.
Independently from one another, or in pairs, all have advantages and disadvantages. Consider the following examples:
– At first sight, doing what you love, may definitely seem the nicest thing of all, but if you are not really good at it, it will wear you out and the result will never be satisfactory.
– If you do what you love, but nobody is waiting for it, you will not be able to make a living out of it.
– Doing what the world needs, but what you don’t like, will soon become a burden because it is not in your DNA in the first place.
– Doing things you can get paid for, while your passion is elsewhere, will never yield true satisfaction.
– If you do something real good and relevant, but nobody is prepared to pay for it, you are in charity, but not in business.
Hence, a sound combination of all four elements is what people ideally strive after. The more conscious you are of the concept, the easier is it to make better choices.
The link between IKIGAI and a great strategy
Recently, due to the current worldwide pandemic, I discovered an interesting parallel between the concept of IKIGAI and my personal definition of strategy. I realised that the combination of the four elements of IKIGAI are actually present in what I defined as a successful strategy.
So, in other words, is IKIGAI also relevant in business?
Yes, of course: “thinking in terms of IKIGAI” is a good technique to finetune or rethink your purpose in business in the drastically changed reality of 2020.
“Strategy is about being relevantly differentMy one-sentence summary of all strategy books I read over time
while creating customer value in a sustainable way”
Combining the four elements of IKIGAI
Doing what you love and you are good at is a prerequisite for being relevantly different
It is very important to start from what you love and what you are good at, and precisely in that order. As such you will be able to find what can be most passionate about. Passion is the prerequisite for success. Also in business.
Now, to do something that is at the same time relevant and different is not easy. That requires a lot of strategic thinking and preparation, and is also why 80% of all market introductions fail.
If you create something that is relevant but not different, you typically end up with having a useful service or product, for which there already is a lot of competition. In other words, you will have created a pure “me too” that will not take a significant market share.
If on the other hand, you create something truly different, but not really relevant, well, guess…, it might be fun to do, but when nobody sees the purpose of it, it will not sell.
But when you discover a better way than the competition to solve an existing problem, or when you are the first to answer a need or to take away an anxiety, then you are relevantly different.
What the world needs and you can get paid for is the essence of creating customer value in a sustainable way
If nobody is waiting for the product or service you offer, you are only losing time and money with your endeavours. People do not buy products or services for the sake of owning them. They buy products and services to solve a specific problem or need. They seek value in what they buy. Both in B2C and in B2B. For example, In B2C, beauty products are not bought to embellish a shelf, but they are used to gain confidence… whereas in B2B machinery or software are of prime importance to reach a shorter time to market, or to ensure a higher turnaround, These are the goals your customers want to obtain through buying your services or products.
And to make it all sustainable, they have to pay for it. Sounds obvious, but this is for example a huge problem for the majority of apps these days: quite a few are relevantly different, and offer true customer value, but we expect to have them for free. Only when people are prepared to pay for your product or service, in a way that you can keep on investing in your company, you can run a healthy growing business.
If you want to find out more about how to think in terms of company ikigai in your industry, or if you want to schedule a brainstorm session, contact us.
We are eager to help make your strategy future-proof.