“Human Autonomy”

Mistletoe isn’t a company, it’s a community. By doing away with the company model where everybody works out of a single location guided by a single mission, Mistletoe has reshaped itself into a community of loosely affiliated individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests. But what makes this community a community? How are members able to keep track of each other’s activities?

The projects that Mistletoe is supporting span a wide range of business areas. For instance, Zipline, who are developing new logistics solutions to deliver goods such as blood transfusion supplies by drone, and WOTA, who are developing off-grid shower units, are working to realize not only different technologies but also different goals and visions for the future. So, although described as a community, Mistletoe is basically an unstructured group of people conducting unrelated activities. By belonging to the same community, however, members are able to engage in richer discussions and livelier activities. What is it, though, that’s holding this community of individuals with disparate areas of expertise together?

The answer is the concept of “human autonomy”, which at Mistletoe is defined as “a free, self-directed, human mode of being”. Each member of the community must be able to operate as an independent human being. This is valued above all else at Mistletoe. The notion of a community formed around independent people might seem to suggest weak or superficial ties. However, being free and independent doesn’t equate to an unwillingness to trust and help others. On the contrary, the very fact that each person in the community is aware of their autonomy is what enables everyone to place trust in one another.

Independent people are those who have a good grasp of their “likes”. Specifically, they understand what they like to do as opposed to simply what they like. Those with a clear idea of what they like tend to stand at the forefront, but they run the risk of being confined to a limited area of expertise. If you instead know what you like to do and recognize what you feel good about doing, you can free yourself from limitations. Your ability to adapt yourself to all kinds of work beyond any one area of expertise becomes your greatest strength. An individual who limits themselves to a niche won’t be able to leave it. However, an individual who continually challenges themselves to find and do things that they like rather than adhering to what they’re already good at can help their community expand beyond its limits and become more diverse. Mistletoe is a community where everyone can develop a clear grasp of their own strengths and engage themselves in work that only they can do.

In a conventional company, it wouldn’t be easy to get every employee to recognize their own strengths and act with self-direction. One is always subjected to constraints of some kind when acting as a member of a large organization. This is precisely why Mistletoe shed the company model to become a community.

Mistletoe of Tokyo (MoT) was created as a place to foster collaboration within the community. It serves as a hub where the projects being supported by Mistletoe can be mixed and combined to more powerfully shape the future. One might call it a junction where self-directed individuals can form a loose network. Where normally it might be difficult for members to know what others are doing unless they’re involved in a project together, by coming to MoT, they can not only see what everyone else is doing but also freely join in on discussions at any time. To achieve this level of transparency, it was crucial to have a real space as opposed to a virtual one. Being physically present in a space also allows for chance encounters to occur. But what functions does a community of autonomous individuals need? This is a question that is being explored at MoT through ongoing experimentation and trial and error.

Contributors: Kenichi Shinjo, Akiko Kikuchihara, Kaori Ochi
Text: Hinako Izuhara


Mistletoeは、「会社」ではなくコミュニティだ。ひとつの理念に向かって同じ場所で働く会社から、多種多様な人々が集まりながらもゆるくつながりをもったコミュニティへ──。でも、コミュニティってなんだろう? どうやってメンバー同士の活動を認識しているのだろう?


違う分野で活動する人々をひとつにまとめている指標、それが「Human Autonomy」だ。直訳すると「自律した人間」、Mistletoeでは、「何ものにも制約されず、人間的で意志の自由な暮らし」という日本語を当てている。コミュニティに属する一人ひとりが自律した人間になること。それこそがMistletoeでもっとも重要とされていることだ。自律した人の集まり、というと一見つながりが希薄な感じがするかもしれない。しかし、制約を受けずに自律していることとお互いを信頼し協力するのとはまた別のこと。自分の自律性をコミュニティのひとりひとりがわかっているからこそ、他者を信頼することが可能になるのだ。



そんな協力を生む場所としてつくられたのがMistletoe of Tokyo(MoT)だ。Mistletoeが支援する活動が組み合わさることによって、MoTではよりパワフルな未来がつくられていく、そういった拠点になっている。いわば、自律した個人がゆるやかにつながれる交差点だ。それぞれがどんな活動を行なっているのか、プロジェクトに参加していないと大雑把にしか把握できないが、MoTに来れば個々の活動が見え、さらにいつでも議論に加わることができる。そんなふうにものごとを可視化するためにはバーチャルではなくリアルな場所が必要だった。実際の場所に身をおくことで、偶然の出会いも生まれる。自律した個人が集うコミュニティのために必要な機能は何か。試行錯誤を重ねながら、さまざまな実験が行われていく場所、それがMoTなのだ。