For Project Teams


The Greatest Challenge

Projects create new business value for organizations in every country and sector. However, to create new value today, project teams confront complexity, conflict, and turbulence. Nowhere is this more true than in Japan.

At the end of the 20th Century, Peter Drucker predicted, "The developed society that faces the greatest challenge is the society that has been most successful in the last 50 years: Japan." That prediction has come true. Individuals, teams, and organizations doing projects here today face wicked problems on every time horizon. To these problems, project management as practiced in the 20th Century is no longer adequate.

In the last generation, however, the practice has become far more open, dynamic, inclusive, and savvy in terms of business and politics. In a word, it has become more "social". For evidence of this new perspective, see one of its key artifacts: The Agile Manifesto.

Modern project management then, from waterfall to agile, combines people skills, systems thinking and cloud-based tools. It is not simply a way for teams to work together. Among fast companies and premier enterprises around the world, it is the vehicle for collaboration, product discovery and success.

However, as is more widely agreed each day, Japan's traditional educational system does not consistently provide young people with the competencies needed to succeed in fast, global companies. Formal education, including training in project management, traditionally emphasizes individual receptive skills and correct answers to problems set by the sensei. However, managing projects was never much like listening to experts, reading slides, taking tests, or watching videos. In this century, in Japan, it is even less so.

For Cogent Language, this is the "greatest challenge" that Peter Drucker foresaw: building the capacity of Japan's firms and project teams to move quickly, creatively, and effectively on the global stage. To engage that challenge, Cogent Language has been in Japan for more than a decade. We aim to enable our clients to design and build the project teams that create business value for their organizations.

A primary objective of all our work is project team know-how: not simply theory, technical expertise, or test preparation, but project team competency for a turbulent, global world. Team know-how is knowing how to build constructive relationships, and then to work in these relationships to build something of value for some very particular stakeholders, whoever and wherever they are. Any project management or career education program not based on customer-centric team know-how is simply not cogent to Japan's global contexts today.

To nurture this team know how, the design pattern of all of our product and services is constructive, collaborative, cumulative, visual, fast-paced and personal. This approach – to what Drucker called "the greatest challenge" – we call "cogent."