Corporate Strategy for Dramatic Productivity:



The Spread of ‘Intelligence Olympics’

by Professor Emeritus Akira Ishikawa

Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan

Former Dean, GSIPEB

Senior Research Fellow, ICC Institute, University of Texas at Austin

Doctoral Program Chair




The Need for Intelligence Olympics

For humans to grow and mature holistically, a customary Olympics that attaches great importance to physical strength, or in other words, a venue where people can pit their physical strength against each other, is important.


However, I have also been advocating, since more than fifty years ago, the need for a venue where people can pit their intellect and minds against each other, or in other words, an Intelligence Olympics, if you will. This need came to be gradually recognized, and in 1950, as proposed by the Youth Career Association in Spain, the first International Skills Olympics was held in Spain (Madrid), in which contestants vied their intellectual skills against each other, and not their physical strengths. Since then, the event has been held in all parts of the world once every two years.


Furthermore, the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), which is included in the International Science Olympics, a contest associated with technology for students enrolled in the secondary curriculum ( junior high and high school students) throughout the world, was held in 1959, and was followed by the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) in 1967, which was in turn followed in 1968 by the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). And after a brief interval, the International Information Olympiad (IIO) was held in 1989, and in 1990, the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) followed. Related tournaments in other fields were held as well; the International Philosophy Olympiad (IPO) in 1993, the International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) in 1996, and the International Geography Olympiad (IGO) also in 1996, and the International Linguistics Olympiad (ILO) in 2003.


Japan’s Lukewarm Support

When we examine what kinds of support are being carried out in Japan for these activities, we see that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is carrying out support through organizations for promoting technologies, which are independent administrative agencies, and through the Japan Science Foundation. However, it cannot be said that they are actively providing this support.


For example, Japan began participating in the International Mathematical Olympiad, the oldest contest of its kind running today, only since the 31st tournament of this Olympics held in Beijing, or 31 years after this Olympics began. Although Japan won five gold medals and one bronze medal in 2009 to become No. 2 for the first time, it has failed ever since then to enter into the top five.


Amid such a situation, it was difficult to simply remain a bystander, so Japan fulfilled the role of host nation in 2009 in the 20 the International Biology Olympics, and even in the 42nd International Chemistry Olympics, which was held from July 19, 2010 through July 28, 2010, Japan was burdened with the heavy responsibility of serving as the host nation, despite being a newcomer, having participated from only 2003.


Japan Meets with Success Twice in the Theater Olympiad

Naturally, we can also include in Intelligence Olympics the Data Mining Olympiad, the Theater Olympiad, and even the enterprise-sponsored world tournament, Imagine Cup, which are all intended for a wider bracket. In particular, the Second Theater Olympiad held in Shizuoka contributed to the revitalization of the local community and is believed to have earned more than 230 million yen, which is considered extremely exceptional for this kind of an event (as of November 16, 1999). However, I would also like to touch on the Imagine Cup as a case study also illustrating exceptional, super effects.


Sponsored by Microsoft, this competition was first held in 2003 in Barcelona, Spain, and its mission was for Microsoft to support creative students who are driven to cause change in the world today through the use of technology. The event can be considered to be a global-scale

technology contest.


Consequently, after its inception in 2003, the Imagine Cup grew into a global-scale event for searching solutions to real-world problems, and its Egypt convention held in 2009 turned out to be unprecedented in scale, drawing more than 300,000 students from more than 170 countries. The attendants include passionate and young programmers, mathematicians, engineers, designers, creators, and artists from around the world. They all prepared to compete in a competition category of their choice and to take up the challenge of changing the world. What is noteworthy here is that the theme of the 2008 Imagine Cup, “solving societal problems with the use of technology,” was adopted for the first time by the United Nations as the theme for the Millennium Development Goals since 2008.


The United Nations Millennium Development Goals comprised of eight goals:

• Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger,

• Achievement of universal primary education,

• Promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women,

• Reduction of child mortality,

• Improvement of maternal health,

• Prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases,

• Securing of environmental sustainability and,

• Development of a global partnership for development.


With 2015 as the target date, the goals entail substantial numerical targets to be achieved, as indicated in Fig. 17.1.


1. Relief for more than 500 million people said to be in the extreme poverty bracket

2. Relief for more than 300 million people suffering from hunger

3. Rapid improvements in the health of more than 30 million infants and more than 2 million pregnant women

4. The securing of safe drinking water for more than 350 million people

5. Improvements in the state of hygiene for 650 million people

6. The acquisition of freedoms that are safer and based on more equal opportunities for more than 100 million women and girls


Fig. 17.1 Numerical targets.


This paper was excerpted from Dr. Ishikawa’s upcoming new book, “Corporate Strategy for Dramatic Productivity,” published by World Scientific Publishing Company. Copyright 2013 Akira Ishikawa and WSPC ( The paper featured above comprises Chapter 17; additional selected chapters will be featured in upcoming issues of this Journal.


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