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By @SimonCocking. Enjoyable interview with Kei Shimada 10k runner | innovation leader | extreme traveler, who has one of the coolest jobs we’ve come across recently, as Global Director of innovation at Dentsu, or the Dentsu Aegis Network to give it its full name, who have 117 locations around the world. He is a passionate speaker about tech and innovation.

Interviewing Kei Shimada was one of our highlights of TechChill, even if he was  little jet lagged as he had spun his way round to Latvia via the US from Japan. His current role is the man tasked with ensuring that Dentsu delivers innovative and inspiring ideas and projects. To more than 7,000 clients on their books, and over seeing a staff of more than 8,000. This seemed like a dizzying level of complexity and numerous plates spinning in the air. When asking him how on earth he managed to ensure that he both delivered on his innovation brief, and also on keeping his clients happy, his answer was almost like the curate’s egg. “We don’t expect them to like everything we do for them, but if we feel it is the right solution for them then I am happy, and … they may come to see value in it too!” offered Shimada with a twinkle in his eye.

We asked him how he balanced achieving profitable results across enough of his portfolio of projects to ensure space for more extreme creativity among the more out there, moon shot projects. Shimada was again delighted to address this challenge, “my more out there projects are literally the ones in space, our Outer Space Labs. We’re not sure if they will ever make money, but they are certainly interesting, important ones to work on, and naturally I make sure that they are balanced by enough of the more traditional, revenue generating initiatives”. Shimada also explained that Dentsu has multi-decade relationships with many of their clients,. This enables them to have the benefits of a long working history, and the trust, and deep understanding that comes with repeated previous successes, and the trust to allow them to experiment and try out new and different approaches. Japan prides itself on taking the long view, and through this approach and achieving striking long term gains. Shimada was keen to explain that this does not happen by chance, but rather through careful and considered design, while remaining open to beauty and spontaneity to enable unexpected results.

Shimada showed some great clips of their latest innovation projects at TechChill, and we are now on a mission to track these down, and either include them in this article in a follow piece with some examples of what he has been working on. Overall though it was a breath taking an exciting showcase of what has already been developed and is being applied in various test cases around the world. William Gibson’s possible quote about the future already being here, just unevenly distributed, never seemed truer!


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