CASE 25

Future Sessions Inc.

(July 1, 2019 - present)

Deepening the relationship between client and provider led to a positive partnership, and a collaborative approach to addressing social issues

In recent years, society and business have been confronted with increasingly complicated problems. Often, we don't know the answer, or we're pushed to make a decision when no options are available. Future Sessions addresses these problems by creating dialogue, not just among specialists, but among people from all walks of life. The company brings together people, ideas, and diverse values, in a push to realize a future bursting with hope. At first, Hitoshizuku Inc. worked with Future Sessions on their branding. That led to various other projects, and in December 2021, the two companies formed an official partnership. We asked Future Sessions CEO Hideyuki Arifuku to reflect on the projects they've worked on, and to tell us what's coming up in the future.

Accumulated dialogue shed light on unforeseen problems

Hideyuki Arifuku, President and CEO of Future Sessions

Hiroshi Kokubo, President and CEO of Hitoshizuku (Kokubo):
We talk all the time, so it feels a little odd to sit down for a proper interview, doesn’t it?

You first contacted us in the summer of 2019, I believe. What were the circumstances that led you to do that?

Hideyuki Arifuku, President and CEO of Future Sessions (Arifuku):
That year, the previous president of Future Sessions left to launch a new company, and I took over. Just as I was reconsidering the branding for Future Sessions, I happened to get chatting with you at a cafe. Right away, I decided to ask for your help.

Kokubo:
Can you go into a little more detail about the issues you were facing at the time?

Arifuku:
The company had just been restructured, and to be honest, I didn’t know where to start. So when we started speaking to Hitoshizuku, we weren’t entirely sure what we wanted.

Nevertheless, you were enthusiastic. You set up branding meetings every couple of weeks, and made time to talk about the future. The two of us discussed our concerns, and I also got advice from one of your advisors at the time: Fumitake Sakamoto. I was able to see very clearly what Future Sessions should do, and what sort of company we should aim to become.

Kokubo:
At first you asked us about copywriting, to promote your brand on your website. But as we spoke, we hit on other methods too. One of them was a live question and discussion session with the stakeholders, to visualize what Future Sessions should be.

Arifuku:
Dialogue is crucial for solving problems. Conducting that communication, alongside Hitoshizuku, allowed us to move in the right direction. The Great East Japan Earthquake, in 2011, brought some complicated social issues to the fore. I think that all sorts of Japanese organizations realized that cooperation was essential. Rather than working alone, they discussed those problems with a broad range of related parties. At Future Sessions, too, we believe it’s important to talk and collaborate with other businesses and organizations.

Moving from a business relationship to partners addressing social issues

Continuing to ask: Are we working together to achieve a future we can all believe in?

Kokubo:
When you contacted Hitoshizuku, what role did you hope we’d play? What did you think we’d be able to do for you?

Arifuku:
At the time, I felt our ability to reach out to the public was weak. I contacted Hitoshizuku because you’re PR specialists. Also, although Future Sessions is a stock company, I wanted our work to lead to social innovation. I felt that Hitoshizuku has similar values—you’re involved in a lot of projects that aim to move the world in a good direction. You helped us achieve communication based on an awareness of social issues, and the correct path forwards. It all went very smoothly.

Kokubo:
At first, Hitoshizuku was just acting in a supporting role. But what you said during our discussions moved me, and I started thinking all sorts of things about the future of Hitoshizuku. It was a chance to make changes within myself.

Arifuku:
We may have started out as client and provider, but through those conversations about what impact we wanted to have on society, we moved towards a more collaborative relationship. I think we have ended up working together in a really fantastic way.

Kokubo:
We’ve gradually set up more and more opportunities for our other partners to discuss various ideas with Future Sessions.

Arifuku:
Hitoshizuku gave us the opportunity to meet with all sorts of people. It has really broadened our horizons. When you confront problems, there’s a limit to what you can achieve alone. Collaborating with specialists in diverse fields gives a sense of speed, and leads to more impactful activities.

Business partnerships lead to social innovation no company could achieve alone.

Repeated discussions reveal new questions—even with regular meetings, there’s always plenty to say

Kokubo:
Since you contacted us in 2019, we have worked together on all sorts of projects. Then, in December 2021, we agreed a formal partnership. As we move forward, what projects do you want to work on?

Arifuku:
There are so many. Through our “future sessions,” we create opportunities for people from all walks of life to create value together. But our ability to help people connect and grow together, in an enjoyable way, still needs some work. Moving forward, I want to create ways for people to work together in many different fields, such as sports and food. I want to introduce a culture of collaboration.

We need to hold discussions with Hitoshizuku, to determine the best areas to focus on. I want to invite all sorts of people to take part.

Kokubo:
Our business activities are different, but as partners with a shared viewpoint, I hope we can achieve a social impact that wouldn’t be possible working alone.

Arifuku:
Yes—moving into the future, there are a lot of ideas I want to realize. And there are just as many ideas I want to talk about. Those discussions are an investment for the future. I hope to conduct even more of them, and I’d like to do so in fun and enjoyable ways.

Kokubo:
Absolutely. Maybe we should stay at a hot spring town for a couple of nights! Rather than working all the time, it’s important to spend time discussing ideas for the future. That will help us work towards a more sustainable society.

Arifuku:
Now that we’re business partners, I want to continue the good work that we’ve been doing together, while considering the future, and implementing all sorts of ideas.

 
Photography: Hiroyuki Horigome / Editing: Mayuki Tsujihara

RECENT WORKS

NameHitoshizuku Inc.
Address3–33 Kitanakadori Naka-ku Yokohama-shi Kanagawa 231–0003 JAPAN
Phone81 45 550 4141
E-mailinfo@hitoshizuku.co.jp
PresidentHiroshi Kokubo
EstablishedMarch 2016
Capital3,000,000yen
BusinessAdvertising & Public Relations Agency
Planning & Produciton of Social Good Projects
LawyerJunna Tei / Yokohama First Law Office
Tax AdvisorSatoru Motokoide / Uniques Money Advisory
Labor and Social Security Attorney
Office Work Innovation