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Thankful: The State of the JHRS Community Report 2012

The year 2011 was indeed a truly unforgettable year for Japan and the rest of the world. It was a year marked by destructive earthquakes in Japan, Turkey and New Zealand; floods in Thailand; summer riots in England; the Arab Spring movement that has so far toppled dictatorial governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; the European debt crisis; there cord-high value of the YEN, and much more.

In the midst of all the destruction, death and turmoil, one has to wonder: What was there about 2011 that we should be grateful for? From a micro-perspective, as HR professionals, what should we be proud of? What about JHRS… what do we have to be thankful for? My answer is: “There’s a lot!”

To start with, let me deliver this year’s State of the JHRS Community Report (a tradition that we have been doing since 2009) through the pages of this issue of The HR Agenda magazine. But this time I will not give you the usual figures and statistics that characterized our past community reports. Instead, let me enumerate the achievements that we should really be thankful for (i.e., our “Hits”) as well as our “Misses” and end the report with what lies before us in 2012.

Our “HITS”

The HR Agenda Magazine: A dream come true

We are thankful…that out of the destruction and uncertainty following the 3/11 earthquake in Japan, we still managed to make history with the publication of The HR Agenda magazine as the country’s first and only bilingual, Japan-focused HR publication, thereby effectively putting Japan on the global HR publication map.

As a community, publishing this magazine has been our greatest and boldest undertaking so far and I commend all the people who helped make this happen such as our advertisers, subscribers, partners, writers/contributors, editorial and production staff, and of course, the HR profession in general. We have received a number of accolades from many people about the magazine $ its quality, format, bilingual nature, uniqueness as a flip-type magazine, etc.

We likewise appreciate the sincere and well-meaning constructive criticisms that we have also received from our readers to better the magazine in terms of its editorial content and visual impact. We encourage you, our valued reader, to let us know how we are doing or how we can make this magazine valuable reading for you. Send your feedback to

JHRS@SHRM 2011 Annual Conference: Going Global

We are thankful…that in 2011, JHRS has continued to gain international recognition from other HR professional organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) $ the world’s largest association for the HR profession. At SHRM’s annual event, attended by more than 18,000 participants, JHRS delivered the conference’s one and only Japan-focused concurrent session, titled: Japanese HR Management 101: Understanding the Japanese Way of People Management. Needless to say, it was a great honor and experience to represent the JHRS community at this conference and we hope that through this experience we were able to let the world know that there is a community of HR professionals in Japan that they can get in touch and partner with in the future.

Our big congratulations and kudos to the organizers and staff of the GOLD Symposium, the Global Leadership Conference 2011, and the SSO Summit Japan for successfully conducting these events (refer to centerfold to see these events in pictures and reviews in the following pages). Thank you for giving JHRS and The HR Agenda magazine an opportunity to partner with you and we look forward to continuing our partnerships in the future.

Knowledge@Wharton Partnership and JHRS HR Legal Clinic: Turning Information to Practical Use

We are thankful…that we made a strategic partnership with another Ivy League school, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, to syndicate well-written, highly insightful HR and management articles into The HR Agenda magazine. This further strengthens the magazine’s editorial content and value.

We are also thankful that in addition to our existing AskHR Forum (, we have launched in 2011 the JHRS HR Legal Clinic ( Hosted by bilingual legal professionals in Japan, this “clinic” aims to provide guidance and help for HR professionals in addressing labor laws or compliance issues. After all, “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”


When we set out our strategic goals and objectives for 2011 we were very upbeat and optimistic. We believed that we could hit our targets easily. We had momentum. But after the 3/11 earthquake, everything came to a standstill and, in fact, JHRS began initiatives that we never planned for, in order to respond to the crisis at that time (e.g., JHRS Quake Center, HR Help Line, Message Board, and PersonFinder).

Unfortunately, we eventually had to cancel or delay planned JHRS events, surveys and institutional programs such as launching the JHRS HR Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships to Japan focused or Japan-based HR professionals to further their HR studies through the JHRS Academy x TUJ or the JHRS eAcademy x eCornell.

In terms of numbers, JHRS official membership in 2011 remained almost at the same level as that of 2010 but the good news is that we saw a little increase in the number of paid JHRS memberships such as associate and professional memberships. For us, this meant that members are beginning to appreciate the quality and value of their involvement to the JHRS Community as a paying member.

2012: What Lies Ahead

Cognizant of the prevailing economic and geo-political uncertainties in Japan, our plans and goals for 2012 will be marked with the following guiding principles:

Incremental and Forward-looking

■Continuing providing current JHRS services and programs to add more value and a create positive membership experience such as:

— Ask HR Forum (

— HR Legal Clinic (

— JHRS eBooks Collection (

— And, on a need-basis, create other significant resources or programs.

■Further strengthenour existing relationships with our institutional partners such as Temple University Japan, eCornell, and Knowledge@Wharton by doing joint activities or events. At the same time, continue to partner with other organizations (domestic and foreign) to facilitate exchange of information, best practices, knowledge transfer and other opportunities.

■Continue improving the quality of The HR Agenda magazine by providing more interesting and insightful articles, commentaries and interviews to satisfy our readers’ need for quality reading.

Challenging and Pragmatic

  • Expand the circulation distribution of The HR Agenda magazine outside of Japan, starting with Singapore and Malaysia in 2012 and possibly the rest of Asia in 2013 by forming partnerships with other publishers in the region and/or develop an international network of distributors. This will further help achieve JHRS and the magazine’s joint mission in becoming a bridge to facilitate exchange of information, resources and HR best practices.

  • Host dialogue events after each issue of The HR Agenda magazine to supplement the discussions and put ideas presented in the magazine into action. This will further help achieve the mission of raising the bar of best practice.

  • Partner with HR-related conference organizers for JHRS and the magazine to be media partners for their events in Japan (e.g., SSON, GOLD, etc.).

Our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

  • Develop the working guidelines for the aforementioned JHRS HR Scholarship Fund by June 2012.

  • Secure corporate or individual sponsors to support the Fund from January 2012 onwards.

  • Launch the program for the fall 2012 term.

As we start the year and move toward celebrating our fifth year anniversary in June 2012, we invite you to become an active member of the JHRS Community. Get involved. Advocate for JHRS and its mission. Give. Volunteer. Do something to change the status quo. Be a change-agent by being the change you want to be. There are still so many things to do and accomplish. If we survived 2011, there is no reason why we can’t thrive in 2012. Let’s make things happen this year and don’t forget that, there is so much to be THANKFUL for!

“This issue of The HR Agenda is yet another full-packed edition of interesting articles and stories that Japan-focused HR and business professionals will certainly find helpful and insightful. We are very proud and honored to feature one of Japan’s leading management gurus, Dr. Ikujiro Nonaka, Professor Emeritus of Hitotsubashi University and president of Japan-America Institute of Management Science (JAIMS) as he shares with us his ideas around Leaders and Leadership through a concept called “Phronetic Leadership.” Indeed, this issue is a MUST read for leaders like you!”

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