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Kangen Shugi

Introduction to Kangen Shugi (還元主義)

Kangen Shugi, derived from the Japanese term for “Reductionism” or “Return to Source,” is the foundation of Foflo’s back-to-basics approach to business improvement. This forward-thinking methodology focuses on reducing complex human systems to their most fundamental, universal units of value: ‘Intellectual Assets’.

Unlike methodologies such as Lean, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and Design Thinking, which concentrate on efficiency, quality control, incremental improvement, and user-centric problem-solving, Kangen Shugi prioritises the elemental intellectual contributions of the workforce. It is these observations, opinions, insights, ideas, questions, challenges, and requirements that underpin all efforts to improve productivity and performance.

Kangen Shugi Primary Focus

The primary focus of Kangen Shugi is on mobilising and recognising a workforce’s intellectual assets, unlocking the true value of their intellectual capital, and fostering a culture where this intellectual capital is seen as a primary source of competitive advantage. Kangen Shugi equips businesses to drive greater efficiencies, adapt more quickly to change, and create sustainable growth through a greater availability, range, and quality of the basic building blocks of value.

By concentrating on the intellectual forces that power business activities, Kangen Shugi offers a unique approach to business improvement. This emphasis makes Kangen Shugi invaluable for companies seeking a competitive edge and aiming to cultivate an innovative, responsive, and growth-driven business environment.

Seven Elemental Intellectual Assets

Mobilising intellectual assets must be the foundation and focus of all initiatives aimed at increasing the value generated by the workforce. Business success depends on them. Without this focus, a business forfeits most of its workforce’s intellectual capital.
Intellectual assets, products of mental processes like thinking, analysing, and interpreting, fall into two categories: reflective and responsive. Reflective assets are observations, opinions, insights, and ideas. Responsive assets are questions, challenges and requirements. Each of these seven asset types is crucial for creating value.

The Need for Intellectual Diversity

The Kangen Shugi practice uses the term kanzen kachi (完全価値), meaning ‘complete value’, to emphasise the power and importance of contributing a broad spectrum of intellectual assets. Every critical business function—problem-solving, decision-making, innovation, improvement, communication, and collaboration—relies on mobilising a broad range of these intellectual assets. Without them, achieving ambitious goals becomes extremely challenging. Intellectual diversity is at the very heart of Kangen Shugi techniques.

Kangen Shugi Practice

Kangen Shugi is a philosophy, a set of principles, and above all, a practice, comprising the following four Kangen Shugi Practitioner levels:
  1. Kihonsha (基本者) Fundamentals Practitioner, where practitioners are introduced to core concepts and basic practices, focusing on identifying and mobilising intellectual assets.
  2. Katsuyaku (活躍) Active Practitioner, where practitioners deepen their engagement by actively enhancing intellectual assets and developing strategies to increase Flow Energy and Flow Capacity.
  3. Meijin (名人) Expert Practitioner, where practitioners conduct advanced diagnostics and develop sophisticated strategies to achieve significant business improvements.
  4. Shinka Suru Tatsujin (進化する達人) Evolving Master, where practitioners excel in applying and innovating Kangen Shugi practices, mentoring others, and leading the field in new directions.
The image shows the SEA ORIGINS technique, which forms the basis of Kangen Shugi practices.