The Development System Leading to Rapid Growth and High Mobility
At AI inside, we are currently welcoming new members one after another. Here, we will share the type of system we have for development as the company continues to grow. We have summarized our current organizational structure which is still unique in Japan that allows for quick output and easy collaboration, as well as evaluation and successful personnel.
*The organization of the development group in this note is as of May 2021. Please note that the organizational structure may change in the future and contact us for inquiries.
“Unit System”, Develop with a sense of speed and high mobility
Generally speaking, Japanese companies make decisions following the hierarchy. While employees pay a lot of attention to detail, decision-making tends to be slower than multinational companies due to the approval steps and paperwork that is needed. For AI inside to become the №1 AI company not just in Japan but also in the world, our organizational structure must be lean and sophisticated. With this, in February 2021, AI inside shifted to the organizational structure called “unit system” across the company. This system is an organizational structure similar to the one that is already well-known in the world, especially in Europe, but it’s still relatively unique here in Japan.
As new members continue to join, we have shifted to units of about five to six members each to make decisions quickly and effectively. The number of units as of May 2021 is 32, and this will continue to increase as the number of members increases.
When the organization was shifted to the unit system, the development group was divided separately into units of products and functions. This month, we had an additional change in the organization. The development group is now divided into two main sectors; one in charge of new solutions such as the products that will be released in the future, and another for existing solutions, which will make improvements and develop our current products. Within these two sectors, the units are further organized by products and functions.
By dividing into small units, each unit and the members can aim for a more clear mission, which leads to increased motivation and a structure with high productivity. The feature for our unit system is the high mobility since we operate on a small scale, compared to other companies.
Quick decisions and actions are necessary to speed up the development process. In the unit system, since the relationship between each unit is flat, each member has the discretion to move matters forward.
Feedback from customers and users is also very important for product development and updates. To utilize feedback in development, we place importance on communicating closely with other units such as sales and customer success.
Meetings are held when needed, and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis rather than in one big meeting where everyone decides together. The entire company moves quickly, therefore we are conscious of the speedy coordination.
Goal setting with OKR, and evaluation within the units
The leader of each unit is the primary evaluator. The number of members per unit is kept on a small scale, on a base of five people. Therefore, one leader does not have to evaluate ten or twenty people simultaneously. The unit leader can evaluate those who work closely with him or her.
We operate our evaluations with OKR. For the development side, it can be difficult to set quantitative KPI since there are no sales results, but we aim to set quantitative goals to ensure fairness.
Although for some cases, the progress or result may not be as same as you planned unless it’s given a try, which is why it’s important for engineers to apply the PDCA cycle quickly and accurately.
For example, when building an AI model, let’s say you have thought about your approach and set a target value for perfection. Upon working on the process, for some cases, it can be very difficult. In these cases, we evaluate the process. If the accuracy has been improved up to 70% by drastically reconsidering the method, or trying various approaches through trial and error, the managers evaluate those processes instead of the result.
We set our goals quarterly and strive towards achieving them, but sometimes we have unexpected projects since our company is growing rapidly. In the case of last year, the project to utilize AI in local government’s operations for the special cash payments and COVID-19 vaccination was not expected. In such cases, the additional projects are added to the evaluation as additional points. These additional contributions such as improvement of recognition accuracy for new cases, or finding issues and taking measures to resolve them, are also evaluated.
The Types of Successful personnel
The number of members in the development organization is also increasing rapidly compared to the past two years. There is a wide variety of nationalities within the members. In the development organization itself, we have more than ten foreign nationals. Some speak Japanese but some do not, so the company interpreter can support and make internal communications smoother.
In terms of culture, we have an environment where those who can lead and take initiative can be successful. Of course, it’s required to give opinions on issues, but additional actions on top of that are required, such as positively making improvements on issues while involving others. Those who can take these actions are successful and become unit leaders.
Although the amount of work fluctuates depending on the time of year and the status of the product, we each try to switch between on and off work. We look forward to welcoming new members who can manage themselves and act proactively, even under remote work conditions.
Contact for Recruitment :
AI inside Inc.（https://inside.ai/en/career/)
People Relations Unit E-mail：firstname.lastname@example.org