I recently visited Japan and was fascinated by their seamless integration of technology into daily life, from restaurant robots to immersive experiences like TeamLabs, and high-tech toilets.


Last week I had my first visit to Japan.  Good fun, and super interesting if you love emerging tech like I do.

The tech that I particularly enjoyed:

  • their use of robots serving food in a restaurant, and delivering items to rooms  of our hotel (see my post)
  • An immersive digital experience called TeamLabs (see my post)
  • The high tech toilets.  While they are in very few homes in western countries, in Japan they seemed to be ubiquitous.  There is something special about sitting on a pristinely clean, warm toilet seat in winter.  Similar but even more exceptional than the seat warmer in our Volvo.  I do miss that now that I’m home….

So what can we learn about Strategy from Japanese toilets?  I’m flush with insights.

3 strategy tips for this week

  1. Consider how to bring unexpected delight to your clients.  I just had to smile every time I sat on a pristine warm toilet seat.   Each time still felt unexpected.  A little luxury in the day. What is the equivalent we can provide to our clients?
  2. Introduce just the right number of options to get fast product adoption (particularly for newbies).  As a Westerner, I could intuitively use the toilet in the most basic no-frills way, or I could easily experiment with the options, even though most of the instructions were in Japanese.  Nothing was overwhelming.  Each option was valuable.    For example, I love the idea of choosing to listen to “waterfall” music.  I meditate regularly and this sound transports me to a peaceful place.  This has been well embraced by Japanese ladies who are apparently very particular about their privacy.
  3. Structure your market research to find the right client segment.  This is what I found out about Toto, the market leader (>60% share of toilets in Japan).  When they first introduced these bidet-style toilets, Toto asked 300 employees to test different positions to pinpoint the best comfort and hygiene. Toto discovered what is now called the “golden angle”, that made these very attractive to high-end female clientele in Japan.  And the market grew from there.   (PS the Golden Angel is that the wand must operate at exactly 43 degrees.)   What is your golden angle?  Have you asked the right research question to discover what will appeal to your Ideal Customer Profile?

I’m convinced the next big phase of tech will be robotics integrated with generative AI. This will create a more personalized, human-like experience with robots. There are so many applications that will enhance productivity and convenience.

Quote of the week

“Adopt a startup mindset when launching a new product line. Start small and focus on proving the ideas without overcommitting resources.  This approach allows experimentation and the discovery of innovative solutions that can benefit the broader product portfolio over time.” Megan Cook, Head of Product, Atlassian


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About Lisa Carlin

As a strategy execution specialist and scaleup mentor, Lisa works with ambitious digital leaders to turbocharge their transformation and business planning. Lisa’s clients have an independent sounding board and expert advice so they have absolute confidence they WILL ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. Lisa is Co-Founder and Director of FutureBuilders Group of organisational development specialists, and volunteers as Chair of the University of Cape Town Australia Trust. Her early career was with Accenture (South Africa) and McKinsey (USA).

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