What impact has the coronavirus had on Rakuten’s corporate culture?

According to a 2013 Harvard Business Review article by John Coleman (, a great corporate culture comprises the following six components.

① Vision
② Values
③ Practices
④ People
⑤ Narrative
⑥ Place

While culture can be viewed from various perspectives, this framework is useful for focusing on points of contact on the surface.

Rakuten Survey Result: Physical contact with corporate culture has decreased while contact with the company’s philosophy and values has increased.

Based on these components, Rakuten conducted a survey of between 3,000 and 4,000 people in June 2020 to identify the positive and negative effects that the coronavirus has had on corporate culture.

As would be expected, one of the findings was a decrease in contact points with physical components (practices, people, place). At the same time, however, respondents indicated that contact points with conceptual components (vision, value, narrative) suffered no similar decline. In fact, those responding that contact with conceptual components had increased outnumbered those who responded to the contrary.

As for countermeasures to address these issues, we came up with online approaches to compensate for the reduction in physical components (practices, people, place), and increasing opportunities to intentionally get in touch with conceptual components (vision, values, narrative) through language. In other words, you could say that we’re “creating and systematizing touchpoints with corporate culture” and “making culture lower context.”

“Feeling corporate culture” initiatives at Rakuten

Specific initiatives include holding Culture Café joint online lunchtime sessions for increased contact among employees, encouraging Daily Huddles (morning and evening meetings) to foster a sense of unity at the team level, and the release of Philosophy Stamps with vision and values illustrations for the Company’s internal messaging app.

As we work to foster a better corporate culture, we should continue promoting the Rakuten Cycle of Hypothesize→Practice→Validate→Shikumika.