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.
On December 12th, I conducted an onstage conversation with Cartier Japan CEO Veronica Prat Van Thiel at the Roppongi Hills Club in Tokyo co-hosted by the American and French chambers of commerce in Japan. We had a full house, and lots of great questions from the audience.
This was an off-the-record event. Below are my personal takeaways.
Artificial intelligence and expert systems in business can increase organizational capability, but at the same time, despite hype and promise, they are no silver bullet and can also dumb your organization down.
Most global companies outside of Japan have targets for increasing numbers of women employees, particularly in management. And even in Japan where women are often given short shrift, more global companies now have such targets as well. However, the leaders of the most successful companies I know achieve their objective by doing things right that have nothing to do with women at all, and their businesses and all staff, both men and women, are better off as a result.
If you are the leader of a business in Japan or anywhere else, whether your business is subject to diversity targets or not, below is what I advise.
Once when I made an offer on buying a house in Japan, the owner initially accepted, and then immediately rejected my offer after learning I was not Japanese. For me, such experiences are by far the exception and not the norm. Nonetheless chauvinism, racism, and xenophobia exist in Japan just as anywhere else, and while outrage might be justified, I have rarely found outrage helpful. Chauvinism often masks a deeper concern. What is presumed conventional wisdom is often chauvinism in disguise.
On the morning of March 11, 2011, I picked out a tie, checked myself in the mirror, and then left the house to go to Tokyo without knowing that I would never again leave that house the same way. It was only hours later that the massive 3/11 earthquake struck Japan and its deadly tsunami ensued.