Masayoshi Son’s design process

Quite simple he’d like us to think.

I happened to chance upon this interview (from 2017) of the founder of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, today:

He come across as quite a funny guy and of course I recommend watching it. This is how he describes his innovation process:

MASAYOSHI SON: I ask my friends, isn’t there a job that I can earn $10,000 in five minutes a day? My friend said you are crazy, that’s impossible. Do you want to sell drugs? No, no I don’t want to do that. So I said, okay what is the best most efficient use of my time? It’s invention and I have to file a patent. If I get the patent, five minutes, if I focus I can make some ideas. So I set the alarm clock for five minutes. Tick tick tick. In five minutes, I said come invention. So I did that.

DAVID RUBENSTEIN: And if worked?


I love how simple it is, and it’s almost funny.

But of course it’s not about the process. I wonder if just anyone does this, they will get the results he did. Not only because it’s more about the intention and the intensity to answer a very hard question, q question his peers found to be ‘impossible’, but also because it isn’t intuition and instinct all the way he makes it out to be.

Not the whole story, at least. There is another interview from 1992:

For a year and a half, I did research and made business plans. While I prepared, I had no income. I spent money, I had a new baby. My wife was worried. All my friends, my father, my mother, everybody was worried. They asked me, what are you going to do? You spent years studying in the United States, and now you aren’t doing anything. I spent all my time just thinking and thinking, studying what to do. I went to the library and bookstores. I bought books, I read all kinds of materials to prepare for what I would do for the next 50 years.

I came up with 40 new business ideas—everything from creating software to setting up hospital chains, since my wife’s father is a doctor and has a hospital. Then I had about 25 success measures that I used to decide which idea to pursue. One success measure was that I should fall in love with a particular business for the next 50 years at least. Very often, people get excited for the first few years, and then, after they see the reality, they get tired of the business. I wanted to choose one that I would feel more and more excited about as the years passed.

So maybe coming up with great ideas is – years of research, and then 5 minutes of insight.

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