Shikumika – The entrepreneur’s secret recipe for success

One thing new entrepreneurs often forget is the value of systems.

Entrepreneurs work at a fast speed and make hundreds of decisions every day. They’re often learning on the job, finding efficiencies in all aspects of their business. Some entrepreneurs forget to systemize any new process. And in the excitement of a launch, the value of these systems is often overlooked.

I overlooked the value of systems too. When starting Rakuten, I sought to codify our values and our mission into Five Principles for Success. One of them was this:

Hypothesize → Practice → Validate

This was the process I codified to help employees of Rakuten innovate. It’s the way I encouraged experimentation and curiosity in a measured way. It worked. But I soon realized something was missing.

Systems. What is the value of a great idea if it never makes its way through the entire company? If a product is launched with a smart new feature, why not share that feature with other similar products? If one department discovers a way to reduce waste, but it is not shared, it’s a loss for the company. Great ideas, to be truly successful, must make a final leap and become systems.

So I added another word to my mantra:

Hypothesize → Practice → Validate → Shikumika

That last word in Japanese means “systemize.” All great ideas must make that last step to achieve full impact. It’s the word I didn’t think of right away, when I was a young entrepreneur. I hope you learn from my oversight and embrace Shikumika.

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