Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Shinsei Bank, one of great success stories in Japan, has always been an example of how legacy companies in Japan can be turned around with good management and smart methods. The "methods" include a great deal of innovation towards simplicity by one of my heros Jay Dvivedi. Jay has been evangelizing his approach to IT which uses mostly open Internet, small, off-the-shelf components and a way of breaking complexity into small pieces. I've sent a number of my friends to Jay to have him share his inspiration, but the methods are so different that understanding and believing that they work often takes more than just a conference room meeting.

We had been discussing various way to try to share these ideas. Virginia A. Fuller and David Upton wrote a case for the Harvard Business Review, which is great, but alas is available only to those with permission to read the HBR.

We came up with the idea to release the methods under a CC license and to try to support universities to create open courseware based on these methods. Jay and I met with the president of the bank, Thierry Porté. He liked the idea and told us to move forward. (Video of Thierry Porté and me on YouTube) This week, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur announced that it would work with Shinsei Bank to develop courseware based on Shinsei Bank's methods and license them under a CC license.

We are working on other universities as well.

I think that the idea of companies sharing the business practices and methods in the form of courseware is a big win for everyone. It establishes them as the domain experts, allows outsiders to validate and contribute to the methods and helps make any universally applicable "upgrades" become part of common practice very quickly. It allows directly feedback and fast iteration. I think that there will always be a place for business schools and academic rigor, but the Internet-like "rough consensus/running code" style of interaction is much more likely to happen through collaborative courseware development than through just cases analysis.


"Methods" cannot be copyrighted -- they must be patented to be protected. Creative Commons is a copyright license. So this doesn't make any sense.

Anyway, why don't they just release whatever they're releasing into the public domain? Why burden it with the limits of Creative Commons?

I read about the IIT Kanpur and Shinsei MoU. I worked with Jay-san at Shinsei and am still a big fan of his. I herd your name from him a few times as well.

I think there is a lot of power in the approach and it surely will work however it needs fairly capable people to implement it.


The methods are documented and those documents are copyrighted. Also, the courseware that is being developed will also be copyrighted.

CC provides for attribution that most institutions involved in open courseware usually like to require. I believe that Shinsei would also like to be credited for its contribution as well.

I'll be interested to see how this turns out in terms of Shinsei's partnership with iflex for their back end software.