Sompo Japan: Leading the Future

March 10, 2021 at Online (invitation only)

Sompo is one of Japan’s top insurance companies, and seeks to be a “Theme Park for Security, Health & Wellbeing”.

Kengo Sakurada, the Sompo Group CEO says that it is mainly engaged in the four businesses of domestic P&C insurance, overseas insurance, domestic life insurance, and nursing care & healthcare.

“To prevail in an age of VUCA – the current “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous” era – we have embraced a Group Management Philosophy that calls on us “to contribute to the security, health, and wellbeing of our customers and society as a whole by providing insurance and related services of the highest quality possible,” and thereby contribute to society. Guided by this Group Management Philosophy, we seek to realize a globally unparalleled, unique, and progressive “Theme Park for Security, Health & Wellbeing.”

What’s your future potential?

Our potential is what lies ahead … how we can be more, do more, achieve more.

Think of some of the great people who have changed to realise their potential:

JK Rowling was a secretary at a publishing firm. On her way to and from work, she used to dream of writing a novel, sketching out plots in her head. As a secretary, her potential was conventionally limited to roles in administrative support. But then she threw in her job, took the bold step to write her first manuscript, and her potential was transformed.

Eliud Kipchoge was a very good runner. He was one of the hundreds of African endurance athletes who competed around the world, picking up medals at major events. But then, realising that his career was drawing to a close, he wanted to leave more of a mark. He switched to the marathon. Olympic champion, world record holder. The first man under 2 hours.

“Future potential” is the desire and ability to be more. Individually and organisationally, it is typically driven by three factors:

  • Future courage… Do we dare to be more than we currently are? Future potential demands personal ambition and drive to go beyond our current world, to let go of what we know, to go further, to enter the unknown.
  • Future vision…  Do we know where we are heading, and is it the right direction? Future potential demands more scope, opportunity space, more fertile ground to support new growth, to stretch further and wider ahead.
  • Future capacity… Do we have the talent, creativity and resources to get there? Future potential demands that we become more, dig deeper into ourselves, to develop new mindsets and future-relevant capabilities.

In a sense, it is moving from what might seem impossible to seeing them as possible, and then through our courage and capability, making them plausible.

I work with many organisations, and it is quickly apparent which have the greater “future potential”. The organisations who do, typically see the future beyond the frames of today, they look to go beyond their sector, innovate new business models, disrupt the current game.

In 2017, Tesla reframed itself as an energy company not just an auto business, giving it so much more potential, and investors saw likewise, as its stock market performance rose. Orsted, was a Danish coal-based electricity generator, but within 10 years has transformed itself from black to green, now a renewable energy business, with huge growth potential.

The companies who don’t have future potential, compete within their existing space, seek improved products and operational efficiencies, but are essentially happy to play the old game.  Vodafone, for example, is obsessed with being a telecoms business, focused on handsets and tariff plans, while the rest of the world is more interested in convergent platforms and the content on them. Or Ford, battling to survive in an auto sector, that is quickly been redefined by new forms of mobility.

Similarly for individuals, it is quickly apparent who has the greater “future potential”.

People who seek to be more than they currently are – not just ambitions to climb corporate hierarchies and attain greater positions, more power – but the ones who are constantly learning, curious and creative, they want to improve themselves, searching for new ideas, new initiatives, new ways to move forwards.

Future potential is closely aligned with change, and with growth. An organisation is unlikely to achieve significant change, unless people are prepared to change too. The future potential of leaders has a huge influence on their organisation’s future potential. Without the right leaders, organisations are stuck in today.

Change in mindset, in activities, in capabilities. And as a result of that, organisations are unlikely to achieve significant growth, beyond just working harder-type of growth, unless they see personal growth as a prerequisite.

How much “future potential” do you have?

  • How farsighted are you, to dare to look beyond the horizons of today?
  • What proportion of time do you spend looking forwards, compared to looking back?
  • Is your business purpose a limiting or liberating definition of why you exist?
  • Does most of your innovation exploit the core, or seek to explore the edges?
  • Is your business largely defined by your current products, and existing competitors?
  • Do you typically think more in terms of probabilities, or possibilities?
  • Are performance metrics driven by what you have done, or by what you could do?
  • Is your market value a reflection of what you could do, or what you have done?
  • Do you have leaders with the potential to unlock your future potential?

Finding your future potential requires a shift in your business, a more forwards orientation, a growth mindset, a reframing of where you are going and what is possible. And it requires a stretch to make the mental and physical shift. It needs a catalyst to open minds, it needs energy to break out of today, and it needs courageous leadership to take it to a place you don’t yet know.

Without “future potential” you and your business are unlikely to find a better future.