Japan-fatigue is real and can be fatal to your success and career. Don’t try to explain how Japan is different to executives in your head office. While such conversations are great for dinner parties, talks with students, and war stories with friends, unless executives in your head office are interested in Japanology as a hobby, it’s best to leave Japanology to academics. Executives will find discussions only frustrating and tedious.
Businesses can be their own worst enemies when business process supplants business thinking.
The CEO of a large industrial American company in Japan told me of difficulties he faces in buying from a division of a large Japanese industrial company, not because of a lack of will to sell on their part, but rather unnecessary and burdensome bureaucratic processes that were designed to meet Japanese government procurement requirements, the division’s primary customer. Quality control processes at the Japanese seller company were impractical and far beyond what the American company required, while lead-times and costs were excessive. Adherence to process, no matter how inappropriate, dominated thinking.
If you want to improve collaboration in your business, it should not be done by encouraging harmonious interaction. Rather, you must institutionalize confrontation.
No healthy organization is ever in harmony; it is constructive disharmony that is the ideal state. Natural tension always exists between individuals and groups in any organizations, and there is no resolution of conflict without confrontation.
Empowerment is like breathing. We all recognize its need but we’re rarely aware of it until something is wrong. Passivity in business is the most common symptom of lack of empowerment. Continue reading
New methods can appear threatening to some managers who have never had to change in order to be successful.
Any business, in any situation, in any market always has multiple options for a strategic direction that are all good. It is a terrific boon to buy-in when your leadership team can come up with a strategic direction that matches yours without you having to tell them what your vision is.
However, that rarely happens on its own.
If I offered you more money for results, would you change anything that you are doing now?
I have asked this very question to numerous successful CEOs, and invariably the answer is no. I suspect yours is as well.
If you want to increase productivity in your business, work less not more. A division of Microsoft Japan reduced the work week from five days to four, closing the office Fridays for everyone, and found productivity jumped forty percent! Yes, that’s right. Microsoft in Japan—not Microsoft in the United States or elsewhere. If Microsoft Japan can boost productivity in this way, so can you in your business.