When I asked Mr. Mitsuishi of Persol Career, who was involved in setting goals for over 1,000 people each year, about “Tanimoku,” he told me about the essence of setting goals.

Several people treated the New Year holidays as an opportunity to set goals for 2020. We interviewed Mr. Motoshi Mitsuishi of Persol Career, who was involved in setting goals for over a 1,000 individuals each year. We spoke to him about the “Tanimoku” workshop proposed by Persol Career where other people set goals for you. “Tanimoku” is a workshop involving groups of four individuals in which each one gets the others in the group to think about their goals. This approach has several advantages when compared to self-directed goal-setting and has been introduced in corporate training and in school curriculums. Mr. Mitsuishi spoke to us on a range of topics that include the background of the “Tanimoku” program, what setting appropriate goals for a new era filled with change looks like, and the advantages of borrowing others’ abilities to set goals through “Tanimoku.”


Can you make friends by setting goals? What are the unique advantages of “Tanimoku”?
I want to change the attitudes of Japanese people toward work. The sense of discomfort I felt when I was in Germany motivated the creation of “Tanimoku.”
It is not possible to keep up with the times by merely relying on backward goal-setting. The focus is on finding new goals for the new era.
Key Points

Motoshi Mitsuishi moved to Germany after graduating from university. He began his career at a design office. After returning to Japan, he joined Intelligence (now Persol Career) as a founding member of the job-change service “doda,” which is administered through a leading information services company. He was responsible for collecting data and writing recruitment advertisements for over 1,000 individuals from 500 companies. From 2011 onward, he was responsible for content planning in the marketing department. In June 2015, he launched the media and community “Change the Future” project to address work in the future (now iX Career Compass), and was appointed as the editor-in-chief. In 2017, he developed “Tanimoku.”

Can you make friends by setting goals? What are the unique advantages of “Tanimoku”?

Some people may be unable to conceive of the idea of setting their own goals with the help of others. First, let us look at how “Tanimoku” works. It begins with a group of four people, each of whom has prepared a diagram of their current situations in advance. After taking about five minutes to explain their situations with their diagrams, the three others in the group ask them questions on things they have noticed. Each of them then present goals to that individual as though they were in that individual’s shoes. Goal-setting takes about 30 minutes for each person. When this is complete for all four individuals in the group, “Tanimoku” ends.

A sample diagram to explain one’s situation (Source: Persol Career)

A “Tanimoku” guidebook has been published on their official website.
At a glance, the process seems simple. However, it is filled with mechanisms to facilitate communication and to increase awareness. For example, said Mr. Mitsuishi, using figures rather than text to explain the current situation makes it easier for others to ask questions. As ownership over the current situation becomes abstracted in diagrams, people are more willing to listen to specifics, and this makes it easier for them to ask questions. He also stated that who “Tanimoku” is done with is an important factor in making the workshop meaningful.

Mr. Mitsuishi: “If possible ‘Tanimoku’ is done best between people who are not normally in contact with each other. As there is no regular contact, I can talk openly about myself to the others. Stakeholders such as superiors and subordinates may be biased or may not be able to speak truthfully. In an extreme example, let us suppose you wish to quit a company. You cannot say this openly if other people from the company are part of the group. You cannot speak truthfully because you are worried about evaluations. However, even if stakeholders are present, this can work well by narrowing the purpose down. For example, we carried out ‘Tanimoku’ at our company by placing a person with a job offer and a member of the management within the same group. We hoped that the person with the job offer would get to learn about the directions and concerns that the person who had built a career held, while the manager would gain the opportunity to introspect by drawing upon the naive questions from the one with a job offer. It seems that both had the potential to motivate each other.”

Mr. Mitsuishi stated that there are three major advantages of “Tanimoku.” The first advantage is that others may propose goals for you that you would not have thought of for yourself. That is, new perspectives expand possibilities in life. For this reason, it is desirable to gather members from varied backgrounds together. The second is to have goals proposed and supported that you yourself have been thinking about. “If other people also set the same goal for you,” it can convince you to pursue it. The third advantage is that you can reflect while presenting goals for another individual. When you consider your own goals, you put yourself on guard, but if the goals are for another person, you can propose challenging ones. In considering how to adapt the goals proposed to others for oneself, our own goals become more challenging. In addition to these three advantages, there are significant secondary benefits, according to Mr. Mitsuishi.

Mr. Mitsuishi: “In addition to making goals, ‘Tanimoku’ can also create friendships.” This is because thinking about goals for others can create feelings of support. Once a goal has been set, it is not uncommon for people to say, “I can help you in such-and-such a way.” While doing “Tanimoku” during in-house training sessions, it is easier for mid-career staff to support younger staff by mixing younger staff who have just joined the company together with mid-career staff. This effect is present not only within companies but also within schools. The high schools that have introduced “Tanimoku” into their curriculums conduct workshops without talking about taking exams and use it to help build relationships among classmates. First-year students said that by doing “Tanimoku” immediately after joining school, they established solid relationships and began eating together in groups soon after.

I want to change the attitudes of Japanese people toward work. The sense of discomfort I felt when I was in Germany motivated the creation of “Tanimoku.”

This novel workshop, in which others set your goals appears to have arisen from Mr. Mitsuishi’s journey. He had experience working in Germany and was disquieted by the gap between the Japanese and German ways of working. He felt that he had a good work-life balance in Germany as there was no overtime and he got to spend time playing soccer after work until 11:00 PM during short work nights. In Japan, on the other hand, despite there being many talented people, there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with working styles. To plug that gap, as the editor-in-chief of media for Persol Career’s “Project to Change the Future,” he began experimenting with different approaches to the Japanese mindset in 2015. Although the response to his articles has grown gradually, there was a growing doubt in Mr. Mitsuishi’s mind as to whether he could really address the needs of the human mind. He felt that he had to get people to engage with each other through their workshops. At the time, he was inspired by his business partner, who had four people conducting a review of the previous year. The idea of “Tanimoku” was born from this. His role as an editor also inspired the idea of “Tanimoku.”

Mr. Mitsuishi: “When stuck on a plan, editors often ask people around them if they have any good ideas. Plans that are inspired and conceived through such ideas will be successful. If you ask people to come up with ideas to create a good plan, then I also think it is good to ask other people for help to create good goals for yourself. Ultimately, the person who decides to pursue the goals is you, but I think if someone can come along and increase the range of options you have to choose from, then you can set better goals. ‘Tanimoku’ was initially intended to be open to the public through workshops, but there were no plans to hold such workshops. However, when the prototype for ‘Tanimoku’ was uploaded onto social media in January 2017, it received over 1500 likes in a single day. As its creator, I did not think it would impact society as much as it has, but with the feedback and support from people around me, I began to hold workshops at various locations.”

For a year, “Tanimoku” was held whenever required. During this time, its content has improved greatly. In part, as a result of this, “Tanimoku” which was originally a personal activity soon became a company project. Mr. Mitsuishi said that it also caused a major change in him.

Mr. Mitsuishi: “There are lots of people who have made changes through ‘Tanimoku,’ but it has also changed me significantly. Until I began hosting ‘Tanimoku,’ I was never the kind to be a facilitator. It was when I began to host ‘Tanimoku’ that I felt the profundity of facilitation, and began to study facilitation and community management for myself. I think that through ‘Tanimoku,’ I have been able to take on challenges that I myself had not imagined.”

「It is not possible to keep up with the times by merely relying on backward goal-setting. The focus is on finding new goals for the new era.

Mr. Mitsuishi explained that because this is a period in which goal-setting and career planning are rapidly changing and working style choices are expanding, there is a need for new ways of thinking. It is true that in the past, goal-setting has involved setting clear long-term goals, calculating backward, and “back-casting” from there. In today’s rapidly changing world, however, people are worried about being unable to set clear goals. In response to this situation, Mr. Mitsuishi stated that “Forecasting’ is necessary for goal-setting and trying out various things based on one’s own strengths and ideas.” Even if you cannot find what you want to do, it is important to seek out the best possible way to live. Conversely, with back-casting, it is not uncommon to lose sight of goals during times of intense change.

Mr. Mitsuishi: “The more a person has progressed in their career by attending a prestigious university and/or joining a major company, the more likely they are to be devoted to back-casting. However, the near future may well be a time in which the ability to set goals flexibly gains importance. The most important thing is to design your way of living by combining both methods of goal-setting. How management is involved is also important for members in designing their career styles. It will be difficult to develop human resources that can remain active in the future using cookie-cutter methods of the past, in which all employees developed uniformly. It is necessary to understand individuality and to identify ways of developing members’ strengths. It is the duty of managers to offer a wide range of options to enable team members to use forecasting goal-setting techniques. For this reason, managers themselves cannot follow cookie-cutter approaches. Now that working styles have diversified, the difficulty encountered in goal-setting and management is increasing.”

Managers themselves must be aware of various working styles to present their team members with options to choose from. For example, a human resources division that is flexible toward diversification may even present options such as sending members of the company that have stopped growing to companies where they are better able to do so. It is better to have them return after having grown than to have them remain stagnant in the company. “I think that future managers will need to offer a wide range of options to their team members.”

Key Points

“Tanimoku” is a workshop featuring groups of four individuals in which an individual gets the others in the group to think about their goals.
・There are three advantages: “You can have goals proposed that you yourself have not imagined,” “You can have goals proposed and argued for that you have already considered,” and “You can reflect for yourself while presenting goals for someone else.” There is also the secondary benefit of making friends.
・The idea for “Tanimoku” arose from this thought: “To generate good goals, isn’t it a good idea to ask other people for goals?”
・“Forecasting” is necessary in goal-setting, wherein goals are set while trying out various things based on one’s strengths and feelings.
・Future managers will have to understand the individuality of different people and think about ways to expand their team members’ strengths.