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Shotaro Yagi

Project Manager, Lecturer,

PhD. Candidate at University of Tokyo

I have supported project leaders 

handle complex projects in various industries, such as Healthcare × AI dev project, corporate-wide DX projects, CRM projects, Global Hackathon, International Government × space/pharma industry collaborations.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the number of PM methodologies out there?

...and the more models/notions created ever year, the less we seem to understand what the project actually is?


I certainly did, and that's why I chose to become a sociologist while a practitioner.


Through coaching, lecturing and actually getting my feet wet, I help project leaders understand their projects as a they are rather than what they ought to be.

Here is what they've experienced:

"I finally realized what I was struggling with by stepping back and grasping the whole structure. I would never have come this far were it not for your 8 weeks lecture" 

N.K., project leader, Soar

"This is very different from the methodologies out there. But it was indeed very practical and helpful for my work at hand." 

A.O., project manager, Venect Inc.

Rebuilding Collaborations through
Practice Theory

There is this little-known notion called "Project as Practice". Hardly anybody is talking about it. But when you dig deep into it, you'll gain total new perspectives on team building which would make a huge difference in your project management.

What I Happily Do


Salvage failing projects by facilitating weekly meetings

Lecture project managers on how projects can run autonomously and why that matters

Assess your team using academically backed questionnaire and provide with a detailed suggestions on how to better collaborate

What I do

How should we manage complex projects?

Project has become a lot complex nowadays. In some case, we can barely plan things out in advance.

No matter how agile the methodologies become, there is always a room for more agility. It's never ending rat race. 

So then, how about giving up on this "waterfall - agile" dichotomy all at once, and instead embrace our innate complexity as social beings?


Instead, let's ask
"how come we get to collaborate?"

We all know that complex project needs more than a plan. But what almost no one understands the nature of human collaboration.


The missing piece, to what I believe, is Pragmatism - the function of  language use in our day-to-day collaborations.


Project should be ambitious and engaging

Let's face it. Managing a Gantt charts doesn't guarantee you to achieve project goals.


What matters more is facilitating important conversations. Rebuilding norms and practices for your project team is the most robust way to make sure that you are having the best shot.

Not only are you maximizing the rate of success, but you will also have a meaningful time together with ever more authentic and engaging colleagues.

project team.JPG

My bibles: Pragmatism and Practice Theories


I help project leaders understand the nature of project


Project Manager & Coach, COPILOT Inc.  (JAPAN)

2017 - Present 


EF Japan Coordinator, Eisenhower Fellowships (USA)

2016 - 2020

Business Development in Japan,

Digital Charging Solutions GmbH (GERMANY)

2019 - 2020 


Program Assistant, The Maureen and

Mike Mansfield Foundation (USA)

2016 - 2017


Project Manager,

Marubeni Corporation (JAPAN)

2014 - 2016 


The University of Tokyo
Bachelor's degree, Economics

The University of Tokyo
Master's degree, Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies


altMBA #40 Ibex Cohort

Seth Godin's Akimbo Workshops, 2020

TOC Strategic Thinking Process Program "Jonah"

TOCICO Certified, 2020 

The Marketing Seminar

Seth Godin's Akimbo Workshops, 2021

Leading Complex Projects
IDEO U, 2021

Profession & Education

I used to think project was painful until...

It was a midnight in summer 2015, when I found my arm shaking as I reached the vending machine. Here I was, taking part of a sinking ship,  the $150 million DX project which we couldn't afford to fail...

Let's discuss future of projects

Project-based society is coming...


But, not only that. Projects will be ever more complex. Here is how:

changing problems.JPG

Technology shifted the realm of problem from the hands of managers into that of players (i.e. Agile), from production to consumption (i.e. Service-Dominant logic), from known to the unknown (i.e.  Well-being). No wonder project managers today are forced to deal with increasingly complex issues.

Accordingly, the nature of project management is changing in two folds. Firstly, it is becoming more of a discovery than an optimization. Literary, we need to project our future before we can manage the nitty-gritty tasks. Secondly, this suggests that unprecedented level of cross-organizational collaborations is required to realize the projected future.

We all see this coming. What we don't see is how to handle this. Mere methods won't last as they presuppose structures which will eventually become obsolete. What we rather need is a fundamental understanding on how any structure/meaning is created in the first place.

Practice ←→ Theory 

This is where practice and theory should go hand in hand. Long since the "practice-turn" in sociology and "linguistic-turn" in philosophy, researchers has been accumulating knowledge on the emergent nature of human collaboration. Meanwhile, it is the striving project managers who understand the problem more than anyone else. It is time the practitioners and researchers put their heads together.

So, let's discuss projects, shall we?

Research Interest
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