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Exploring the Ability to be a Self-Reliant Person

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Hello, I'm Risako from the Project Promotion Group of KINTO Technologies.

I usually engage in various projects in the role of a Project Manager (PjM).

In my previous article, I talked about my projects and what PjMs do at KINTO Technologies: How to Start a Cross-Divisional Project and Introduction to PjM Work. Feel free to take a look if you are interested.

To provide you with a brief introduction to PjMs at KINTO Technologies: each product has basically its own development group or team, and is led by the Product Manager in each team. For projects that cross product lines, such as launching new services, or for projects that are large in scale even if they are not cross-divisional, a PjM will be assigned on the role of initiating and overseeing the project.

What we call projects include those related to KINTO's existing services such as KINTO ONE (vehicle subscriptions) or KINTO FACTORY, KINTO Technologies' owned media and services, and even new businesses launches under the KINTO brand, along with an array of diverse projects that need to be taken care of. New projects emerge daily and many may even start without clearly defined goals. Every time I embark on new projects, I feel the importance of the ability to move projects forward amid uncertainties, and well as the importance to advance myself too! In this article, I will share my thoughts on the theme of "the ability to move forward" and how that connects to the ability to be a “self-reliant person" (Jiso-ryoku).

What is Self-Reliance?

Sorry that the intro became a bit lengthy. Now, what is self-reliance?

We hear that word a lot in recent years (maybe especially in the job market). I think people have a general sense of what the word means, but it's not entirely clear to everyone. I looked up the definition and found that the term "self-reliance" (Jiso-ryoku) does not seem to have a precise definition, but Kotobank provides one under "self-relying."

Running on its own power, not relying on the strength of others

In other words, it refers to the ability to run (to progress or operate) through one's own capabilities. In the context of work, it can be expressed as "the ability to move forward with a task (and complete it under any circumstances) by one's own thoughts and actions." The part in the parentheses would be perfect if we could do that much! That would be ideal.

Self-reliance = running on your own power!

So What Kind of Person Is a Self-Reliant One?

I'd like to take a step further and ask, "what defines a self-reliant person?"

  • Someone capable of advancing tasks even when goals are not clear.

  • Someone who can move forward in the absence of defined methods.

  • Someone who can create output from their own ideas, rather than simply imitating others.

On the other hand, a person who is not self-reliant is the following (the opposite of people who can move forward by themselves!):

  • Someone who can't work without instructions.

  • Someone who assumes they can't do what they don't know about.

  • Someone who only does what they are told to do.

Notice that I wrote "move forward" or "advancing" for "a self-reliant person." But don’t get me wrong, I think that just self-propelling oneself left and right is not good either. "Someone who can properly move forward" is the really self-reliant one!

Don't run wild! Stay in control!

How Can I Become a Self-Reliant Person?

If there's a sure-fire way to become self-reliant, I’d like to learn about it. In the meantime, let me share what I try to keep in mind when I work on different projects.

  • Value Dialogue

    • When two people work together for the first time, it is natural that there will be gaps between them in many areas.

    • Assumptions are easy to make, so we need to be careful to not presume things or make premature judgments. Instead, share your thoughts with each other.

    • Relationships are formed by sharing ideas.

  • Create Small, Output Small, and Value Feedback

    • Under circumstances where there’s a lot of uncertainty, it’s normal to be afraid of creating deliverables or being assertive when communicating with the team. Start with small outputs to slowly bridge the gap with those around you.

    • Don't view the opinions you receive as ineffectiveness on your part, but rather as feedback (do not take it negatively, but positively).

  • Ensure that The Definition of Done is aligned

    • Since the Definition of Done may vary from person to person, make sure the understanding is the same among all stakeholders.

    • For example, imagine there’s a person assigned to review a team's operation and finishes it by themselves, adding just a manual change and closing it without consultation. But someone else in the team with different expectations, may have actually wanted this person to come back to the team to share what they did and ask for feedback (what is considered normal for you may not be the same for others).

  • Do Not Worry Too Much about Unnecessary Problems

    • Worry about them when the time is right (don’t stress over things that aren’t worth your energy now).

    • It often happens that, even after reflecting very thoroughly, situations evolve differently when the need arises (in which case all that hard thinking was for nothing in the end).

  • What is Value?

    • Be aware of the purpose of the work, for whom and for what the end product is for, and the potential outcomes it will bring (as there is a bad tendency that the means become the purpose of it).

    • When a change request arises during development, developers tends to think that a change mid-process is difficult. However, by considering the value and purpose of the project, they can be more easily convinced to embrace changes in a more positive manner, leading to a more satisfying outcome.

    • Be aware of the meaning and the value you bring (as just doing what you are told doesn’t bring anything.)

  • Be Aware of What You Can Do

    • It's easy to see what you can't do, but be aware of what you can do (your value).

    • For example, think about what has changed (or what you have accomplished) since you started. Identify new capabilities and understand what you can do now that you couldn't before.

  • Learn From Others

    • Be Aware of What You Like about the People around You!

    • Being aware of what you like in others can sometimes bring you a little closer to what you consider good.

    • For example, Mr. XX doesn't talk much, but the materials he makes are very easy to understand! What about them are easy to understand? If you look at it from that perspective, you may find tips on how to improve yourself.

This list could go on and on, and I realized it’s somewhat becoming like a textbook... But to some extent, by trying to break down to fundamentals it might end up feeling a bit like a textbook... (For those of you reading, I hope there is at least 1 on the list that caught your eye and mind.)

Self-Reliance and The Agile Mindset

Some of you might have noticed a similarity to the Agile mindset in many of the things I've talked about today

In order to form self-organizing teams rooted in Agile principles, I interpret that each person should be able to work autonomously and be self-sufficient. The foundation of this abilities can be found in Agile and Scrum, and I think these concepts were instilled in me through my previous experiences.

The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

At KINTO Technologies, some groups adopt Scrum depending on the product, while others have a more Waterfall-type approach. However, regardless of approach, I think the overall mindset of KINTO Technologies is Agile (creating value in small increments and making iterative improvements with emphasis on dialogue and cooperation). If you are interested in working in an Agile mindset environment, we would be happy to have you join KINTO Technologies.

Also, of course, if you want to demonstrate your self-reliance, you can do so to your heart's content at KINTO Technologies! We look forward to welcoming you.


Unfortunately, I barely gave any examples to give you an idea of what KINTO Technologies is really like, but I have primarily talked about conceptual issues. However, I would be delighted if this article could:

  • provide examples for those who wonder what self-reliance is
  • and be an opportunity for you to think about your own self-reliance.

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