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Ikigai concept -tool for helping to understand the role of people’s engagement in the business world


As individuals, we always look for our role in everything we do, from love, friendship, sporting activity, social activity to especially economic activity, that started to figure as one of the most important activities in today’s world. When companies and individuals are establishing roles of employees in business process, usually their expectations are not always the same. Result of big gaps in those expectations could (on a short term) lead to employees’ separation and on a long term company’s problems with finding good human resources. When people as a resources enter into business world, it makes sense to position them according to their input and meaning of it. Companies can use the knowledge about people’s position in relation to where do they see them-self in the big picture, to place them in the right position in business process.


Japanese concept Ikigai, which could be broadly translate as “your reason for being”…or an approach toward happiness, can also serve as map for carting peoples motivation or their work effort into proper category so that both parties – employees and companies, can have a common ground in this area and use this common ground to better define employees’ roles inside business processes.

It is true that the use of Ikigai concept is primarily connected with a people, who realize that money is not the only source of happiness, but history is full of different uses of good concepts, so for the purpose of improving people’s utilization as working resources, maybe we could re-define approach for business purposes as I speak in previous chapter. How many human resource exercises really work on defining roles of humans in a light of their meaning to business processes.

One situation from my career has taught me about importance of constantly explaining, teaching, developing purpose of employees work in connection to company strategy in order to achieve better utilization of human resources and better business results. And it is a management job to do it, no question about it.

When we run “Work Climate measurement”, results were that everybody was super happy and they all loved their management, but at the same time nobody really understood what a company strategy was and they felt like they didn’t understand exactly what they should be doing.

I asked management team, that when they are going out for a beer with their team, they should use this time not only to work on how employees should love them, but also on what a company strategy is and how each role in organization is contributing to successful implementation of that strategy…something we were working with management for quite some time until that moment.


I firmly believe that people need meaning in everything they do. If we believe in power of emotions in people’s motivation and we don’t see the power of meaning in the same process, then something is wrong with our approach. In order to define meaning, we need to understand positions of parties involved. Even if a meaning is usually presented to a subjects from outside sources, accepting it is an individual decision of a subject. And after accepting it, he/she can then acts upon it. By using Ikigai concept, maybe we can find and define a proper meaning just a little bit easier. Worth trying?

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Hector Garcia, Francesc Miralles: Ikigai; The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
How to make a career decisions
Susan Fowler: Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work and What Does; The New Science of Leading, Energizing and Engaging

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