ISSN 2050-5337 - ISSUE 6            Find us in EBSCOhost Academic Search Ultimate Collection

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Tuesday, 13 September 2016 14:53

Human-centric innovation - lessons from Sony

Written by Seiichi Watanabe & Shingo Tamura
Portrait of Masaru Ibuka Portrait of Masaru Ibuka © Sony Corporation

This article provides a fascinating insight into the significant role played by creativity development in the success of Sony. The authors’ account of the ‘Ibuka Way’, developed by Masaru Ibuka, the founder of Sony, provides valuable learning for all managers who are wondering how to embed creativity in their organisations. The article goes on to describe his contribution to lifelong learning and the work that is continuing today.


Masaru Ibuka, founder of Sony (1908-1997) inspired those who worked with him to challenge for a human-centric paradigm. This article intends to reveal the secrets of the ‘Ibuka Way’, how the style of Ibuka’s management has inspired and encouraged the Sony community and led to the company’s success to date. The article will first address how creativity was set forth at Sony in its prospectus for foundation, his management style that inspired engineers and scientists, and the key creative outputs generated as a result. The article then highlights: Ibuka’s enthusiasm in developing creativity from infancy and during pregnancy; his vision for a paradigm shift from analytical reductionism to a human-centric approach; and social capital development through Sony alumni associations. In conclusion the ‘Ibuka Way’ is a powerful way of making oneself or groups incredibly active and successful. The authors hope that the reader will also be inspired to take up this challenge and unleash creativity in positive surroundings, which would help achieve a better world.


The instability of the world calls for creative approaches to realize peaceful and democratic systems.

Masaru Ibuka (1908-1997, Founder of Sony) looked ahead for a shift to the human-centric paradigm through creativity, and this vision inspired many who shared challenges with him. The authors believe that investigating Ibuka’s activities and way of thinking is informative to those interested in how creativity can be enhanced and can contribute to a more ideal world. This article explores the background, past and present application and the future of the ‘Ibuka Way’.


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Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.

John Steinbeck

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.

John Cage


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