Research One, Teach One, Lead One 

“See one, do one, teach one.” I very much appreciate this saying and would like to propose a related follow-up: “Research one, teach one, lead one.”

This came to mind after interviewing Yoshi Mitsui, CEO of CLO Labs. Yoshi creates content, facilitates management workshops and delivers executive education in business schools and corporate universities. There are times when he receives inquiries or new opportunities that he may not have expertise, thus necessitating research and exploration.

“To be honest, it always begins with a sense of fear because I know the content I develop will go into the hands of many senior leaders with extensive experience,” he said. “But what drives me to embark on the journey of content creation is my curiosity to better understand the complexity behind management issues.”

You might not consider yourself an expert in a particular topic today. But that can change through the content creation process that leads to knowledge, insight and, just as importantly, confidence.

“It often takes days if not weeks of intense research before my confidence takes over my inner fears,” Yoshi said.

An example of this was when Yoshi had to present on insurtech (insurance technology) innovation to C-level executives of a leading insurer in India. All of them were seasoned senior leaders who have spent all their career in insurance.

“The first thought that came to my mind was, ‘Is there anything they don’t know about insurance that I know?’ It was an intimidating moment,” said Yoshi.

He then began his research process of all insurtech players in India and compared them to ones in the US, Europe, China and Southeast Asia.

“Through this painful yet joyful discovery journey, I was able to eventually come up with a fresh look at emerging technologies and startups in the insurance sector – and raise some thought-provoking strategic questions for them to discuss.”

Consider the impact that is possible after one overcomes the fear, comes up with innovative ideas and provides insights to others who can then apply the knowledge.

“Generating an innovative perspective, to me, is about connecting the dots that most people don’t see or regard as non-relevant,” Yoshi said. “If there are enough data points from across industries, companies, businesses, technologies and consumers to formulate a fresh perspective to re-look at the management problems, then we can validate such perspectives. When I try to create content, I don’t start the actual development work until this innovative perspective emerges through research.”

The content Yoshi creates from his research is customized for a client organization, such as a Thai conglomerate involving approximately 100 executives. These individuals then need to cascade the content onto a dozen of innovation teams for them to apply the concept, approach or strategy.

Teaching as a Catalyst for Leading

The activities from the “research one and teach one” stages can be an impetus for leadership and innovation.

“The days when only ‘experts’ were allowed to create content are over,” Yoshi said. “Now, everyone who wishes to create content can do so. Information, technologies and platforms are available to all. Content creation is about effective communication. And communication is an integral part of leadership. I encourage you to take up content creation to become better leaders.”

An obvious differentiator between great and average leaders is the ability to translate complex ideas and share them in an understandable way that inspires different audiences to take action. Content creation, such as a written document, published article or presentation, can serve as the platform for leaders to gain clarity.

“Creating content absolutely crystallizes my thinking,” Yoshi said. “The most critical factor in this type of content is to simplify complex issues in business. This requires crystallization of information from dozens, if not hundreds, of diverse sources into an easy-to-follow storyline. This is necessary because senior leaders need to fully understand what exactly they need to do as part of their work and to direct, guide and mobilize their teams to take related actions.”

Networks are expanded through this process – both for the participants as well as for Yoshi.

Questions to Consider

Is there a topic you need to better understand? Is there a subject matter that generally intrigues you and can potentially spark your own individual innovation? However, are you overwhelmed by the prospects of learning more about this area and then implementing it? Do you need others to also grasp the concept and become inspired by it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, starting by research it with the goal to create some form of content.

Think about the effectiveness of your networking strategies and tactics. Have you considered content creation as a source of expanding who you know and strengthening existing connections?

Yoshi’s leadership challenge is around delivering actionable insights in a workshop format that inspires participants to apply the learning in their own context. In what ways do you need to demonstrate leadership, regardless of your level within the organization, by clarifying a message and mobilizing others to take action?

If you work in L&D or have a role that involves developing talent, do you provide your colleagues with opportunities to create content that they can publish or present to others in some format? If not, then consider this.

Lifelong learning is indeed on display when colleagues are continually delving deep on a topic of interest to them and the organization (research one), presenting that information in some of educational way, such as a presentation or published article (teach one) and mobilizing and inspiring others to take action as a result (lead one).

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