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View Full Version : What makes Japanese business efficient ?



Maciamo
Aug 18, 2003, 22:20
I've been observing the differences in the way Japanese and Westerners (with noticeable difference between those) work. Here are a few good points about the Japanese way that should be copied more systematically in the West.

- When a shop, restaurant or company office needs redecoration or refurbishing, do it as quickly as possible so as not to distrub business (and maybe lose customers or money). Japanese plan everything perfectly and chance a whole restaurant (repaint, change furniture, lights, all !) in just one night. They might close one day, but ideally they should do everything after the opening hours, that is at night. To accelerate the process, engage as many people as possible to be sure to finish in time.

The same goes with construction companies. They repair roads or dig holes in the pavement at night, and if necessary continue working 24h (changing workers I guess :confused: ), so that everything is ready in less than no time and doesn't cause trouble to the public.

- Avoid strikes. What is more annoying than a train or plane strike in Europe. I've also seen school teachers picketing and lorry drivers blocking motorways. It causes great trouble to lots of (innocent :p) people and disrupts the economy. If there are so few stikes in Japan, it's not only because workers are less inclined to start them, but especially because managers fear them and try to avoid them like plague. It's not just bad for business itslef, it's considered as a shame for company managers, as it means they are so bad that workers have to complain publicly (and sometimes violently). If only Western managers could think like that, they would respond at the first signs of discordance before the strike and act quickly and efficiently to avoid it. I think managers are the first to blame for what happen in their company.

I've learnt that public companies in Japan couldn't strike at all. That also helps reducing visible and annoying strikes - but is it good for personal liberties ?

- Japanese are generally devoted to their job to the point they don't go back home before everything is solved. I know lots of people who have worked 24h in emergency situations or spend their freetime going back to their office (on Sundays and holidays) or working at home. Some will see it either as a lack of productivity (they can't finish on time for their deadlines, so they have to overwork), and others as plain workaholism. If there may be truth in both, they have at least the merit of doing their job properly. I don't think Westerners can go back to such a lifestyle, but it's a fact that this has helped a lot the Japanese economy to become one of the world's first economic power (population notwithstanding).

jspecdan
Aug 19, 2003, 00:08
The same goes with construction companies. They repair roads or dig holes in the pavement at night

True. That's how they repair train tracks. Well, they inspect and maintain daily used tracks at night so trains run as efficiently as possible. Basically trouble yourself to make sure others will benefit from what you've done.

Hanada Tattsu
Aug 19, 2003, 00:54
Well, you are very correct. It is indeed correct that Japanese shopworkers care much, much more about their customers than most American workers (there are some that are considerate, but most of them don't care) do.

budd
Aug 19, 2003, 03:11
i think the products made INSIDE of Japan are incredibly reliable due to the tight tolerances of same. but business practices (corporate) are relatively slow and plodding imo...
brb with some links.

den4
Aug 19, 2003, 04:26
In theory and in some of the practices, the businesses in J-land do cater more carefully to the customer, and the system is designed around that, which is efficient, but if you ever want to change something, or you want to implement a "return" on a product, just because you don't like it, that breaks the way the "system" is set up, and you find yourself running into a wall as inflexible as a steel pipe on a cold winter day...

I am curious, though, with the economy in the slumps, and a lot of the infrastructure no doubt revamped and restructured, and many of the intermediary shops that supported the main corporations have been axed as a result, what new systems are in place to accomodate the new economy?

While, I'm sure, the old system is still in place at most of the surviving firms, I'm sure the ones that are now coming online need to develop newer means to make it in the new millennium, where job security are gone and cut-rate prices are the norm these days.....

Yes, Western nations, particularly in the US, could still learn a lot about how to manage companies, but Japan is by no means a perfect system. What really is needed to get the world economy back on its feet are the melding of the systems, and getting rid of the old boy networks and other inefficient micromanaging networked managers who don't have a clue what interacting with employees is all about...

but that's my humble view.....not that the upper management ever listens.... :D

kirei_na_me
Aug 19, 2003, 04:43
You don't even want to know my view. I have to live with it everyday. I have to deal with the business trips taken at the spur of the moment, husband working like a slave without hardly ever getting a raise or promotion, stress levels coming out of the roof, etc. etc. etc. etc.

I have been on the inside working, and I know how it is. Perfection. If the manufactoring process isn't perfect, it's damn well as near to perfection as it possibly can be.

A good example of how much quality means to the Japanese is that not too long ago, Nippon Denso pulled out of Mexico because the quality was so bad. Here the U.S. is manufactoring everything everywhere but the U.S. just as long as the labor is cheap, and here's Nippon Denso getting the heck out of the land of cheap labor because the quality of their work is horrendous. It shows where their priorities are, I believe.

To me, they certainly know how to make a quality product, but it definitely has it's drawbacks on a personal level. I know, but who cares about that, right?

Maciamo
Aug 19, 2003, 13:16
Originally posted by den4

Yes, Western nations, particularly in the US, could still learn a lot about how to manage companies, but Japan is by no means a perfect system. What really is needed to get the world economy back on its feet are the melding of the systems, and getting rid of the old boy networks and other inefficient micromanaging networked managers who don't have a clue what interacting with employees is all about...


He, don't get me wrong. I've never said the Japanese system was even better than any other. There are a few things (like customer service, devotion to one's job, care not to lose a yen by closing shops too long...) that are better, but Japan has lots of rotten things as well, the first that springs to mind is the seniority system that keeps people over 60 governing and managing the country and practically impede any kind of change in the overall system. Then, all this corruption related to "amakudari" (senior officials taking top managerial positions in semi-public companies), cronism and the dictatorship of the combined Ministry of Finance and LDP. So problems are usually at the top of society in Japan, particularily in politics.

Maciamo
Aug 19, 2003, 17:02
I moved the lorry-truck discussion here (http://forum.japanreference.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3753)

Atmos_Fear
Aug 21, 2003, 07:29
wooow this is the secret ah ? Man you must see what is going on here in Bulgaria. Stuff like " the custumer is aways right " here sound exotic. Anyway i don't think that their system ( in japan ) is perfect. I don't like a lot of things in their way of making thinks. The whole idea about the collective work and puting the good of the company in front of the good of the invidual is great but only from first look.

budd
Aug 21, 2003, 12:14
http://www.amazingjapan.info/

Mandylion
Aug 26, 2003, 10:47
Around here all road construction takes place between 9am and 5pm. Not convenient at all.

I do not think that the active discouraging of striking in Japan is a good thing. Unions are co-opted by a company first chance they get and are rendered powerless (similar to how many dictatorships handled opposition groups).

Recently on the radio a woman did a opinion piece on the work ethic in Japan (overtime). She said that with the bad economy, people may feel like they need to go into to work and bust their butt for the company. She then brought up the point that other countries with similar standards of living take many more days of vacation (basically getting the same done in less time). Her point was not that they had a better system, but that their workers were better rested, possibly had better relationships with their families and friends, and thus probably had a better quality of life. I still maintain that loyalty must come from both directions. Getting a pay check is not an expression of loyalty. Any worker is due a pay check. The line comes when a employer cares enough about your life to strike a balance between work and vacation.

tripo
Mar 16, 2013, 20:44
It is indeed correct that Japanese shopworkers care much, much more about their customers

that's right Japanese consider their customers gods that must be respected and well treated :-)