HomeDissertation:The ASICA Model and the Coming Hospitality-Powered Renaissance

The ASICA Model and the Coming Hospitality-Powered Renaissance

Eiji Kawachi
Vice-President, BtoB Communications University
(Then) Deputy Chairman, Japan BtoB Advertising Association
(Current) Vice-President, BtoB Communications University

BtoB Communications, June 2011 Issue

Opinion

Two years ago I used the pages of this magazine to present an article entitled “ASICA Model Proposal” proposing a process model for purchases made between organizations (“BtoB”). Last year I followed that up with the opinion “New Evolution in the ASICA Theory,” in which I postulated that the effectiveness of this model is not limited only to BtoB but can also prove valuable in the BtoC sector as well. In the quest to put the ASICA model into practice and reap the fruits of the approach in marketing activities, product development, and various other fields, it is vital to reach beyond a grasp of the process model to appreciate anew the “hospitality” that runs throughout the thinking itself. In this latest article, therefore, it is my intention to examine the essence of hospitality not from the simple meaning of kindness or generosity but rather from a dimension that I choose to label the “organization preservation function.”

1.The Origins of Hospitality Cultivated over Generations

In Japan, a country noted for staging a phenomenal recovery over a short period of time following the end of World War II to rapidly emerge in the limelight as a celebrated economic power, organizations have participated in the management of the nation state in various different forms.

The “household,” the smallest organization unit as such, has been operated with the focus on the family head, placing the priority on upholding that structure over the generations.The format of organizational management in which important decisions are rendered by such family heads, with the spouse, children, and other members of the household following their lead, has been largely taken for granted. Family “lineage” or “pedigree” has manifested significance akin to so-called “corporate culture,” with this having flourished as the identity of the respective organizations.

With regard to marriage, the traditional trend was to largely ignore individual interests or preferences in favor of stressing the importance of the relations between the households of the parties entering into matrimony. Families required their children to learn manners, discipline, and knowledge commensurate with their chronological age, demanding that they achieve appropriate growth as contributing members of the household unit.

While the organization centered on the family head may appear feudalistic at first glance, those leaders served to implement a wide array of family education with the goal of upholding what they saw as the greatest value―the preservation and continuation of the household itself. Phrased in another way, it can be said that the absolute authority of the family head played an effective role in furnishing the direction supportive of the future of the household and the family and guiding that unit down the chosen path. Even if there were doubts about why this or that must be learned and mastered in the eyes of children, the family head understood that such progress comprised an element indispensable for the preservation of the household as the organization in question.

In my view, the origins of hospitality lie in this structure. If we understand “hospitality” to be the concept of omotenashi (warmth and kindness) in Japanese, which is considered to function as a service industry, then it would appear logical to allow children to do whatever they please. If it satisfies them to act as they wish, we might very well conclude that this is one form of hospitality. However, by no means does genuine hospitality mean simply accommodating others. In contrast, it encompasses guidance in directions appropriate in view of the future envisioned for the individuals involved. In other words, hospitality in the true sense of the word is not concerned with desires currently being experienced but rather with supplying resources believed useful in resolving issues to be encountered in the future. It does not, therefore, involve the flattering or humoring of others.

Returning to the gist of my discussion, households, as the smallest unit of society, belong to the somewhat larger bodies of local neighborhoods or communities. Within these organizations, traditionally there have been elders, neighborhood association heads, and other leaders. In the current day and age, when organizations reach this scale, there is typically maneuvering that leads to the accumulation of certain vested interests around such elders. But in the not-so-distant past, such leaders devoted the lion’s share of their time and energy to working solely for the betterment of the respective communities.

That spirit permeated throughout the regional community at large, with families likewise placing their priorities on the preservation and progress of the region. While largely inconceivable today, it was considered an accepted matter of course for the community as a whole to look after children, the leaders of the future. Here as well, the concept of hospitality came to be fully and naturally incorporated and utilized in the realm of everyday life.

At dinnertime, for example, it was common practice for dishes prepared at each household to be shared with one’s immediate neighbors. When children misbehaved in public, anyone in the vicinity would be able to freely scold and correct them. Actions contrary to prevailing values tended to be censured by the community as a whole, with the precedence being placed on upholding the neighborhood’s identity. Community environments came to be formulated in this way, with hospitality serving as the foundation here as well. In other words, actions aimed at generating “future joy and gratitude” for others functioned as an element viewed vital for the perennial preservation of the organization. In this way, the existence of households, neighborhoods, and other units as members of the larger organization of the general society came to be tacitly recognized without question or doubt.

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