most remarkable fact about the Japan boom in the U.S. is that for the 8. Let me try to describe three or four characteristics of the Japafirst time Americans have considered the possibility of learning from nese environment that in some way affect decision-making or directionanother culture in areas where Americans had thought they excelled. In taking and problem-solving. These characteristics are interrelated.
that regard Japan deserves special credit, for this might lead to a greater 9. First, in any approach to a problem and in any negotiations in openness and curiosity and learning across other cultural boundaries Japan, there is the Уyou to youФ approach, as distinguished from the that rarely occur in the U.S.
Western УI to youФ approach.
1. Why do you think Americans have recently become fasci10. The difference is this: in УI to youФ, both sides present their nated by Japan arguments forthrightly from their own point of view Ц they state what 2. Why does the author feel that this interest is positive Do they want and what they expect to get. Thus, a confrontation situation is you agree set up, and Westerners are very adroit in dealing with this.
11. The Уyou to youФ approach practiced in Japan is based on A. Japanese Style in Decision-Making each side Ц automatically and often unconsciously Ц trying to understand the other personТs point of view, and for the purpose of the dis1. To talk about problem-solving or decision-making within a nacussion actually declaring this understanding. Thus, the direction of the tional environment means examining many complex cultural forces. It meeting is a mutual attempt at minimizing confrontation and achieving means trying to measure the impact of these forces on contemporary harmony.
life, and also coming to grips with changes now taking place.
63 12. A second characteristics is based on Уconsensus opinionФ and 21. On the other hand, once agreement is established, it is the Уbottom-up directionФ. In Japan great consideration is given to and reli- Japanese who sometimes wonder at the leisurely pace of execution of ance placed on the thoughts and opinions of everyone at all levels. This Westerners. The Japanese are eager for execution and Westerners, peris true of corporate enterprises and Government agencies.
haps, like to take the time for in-depth planning.
13. To understand this, it is important to realize that Japan is a 22. Now, while JapanТs industry and technology are highly develvery densely populated homogeneous country. Moreover, the people are oped, they have not replaced the fundamental force of human energy and aware and are articulate. Literacy is almost 100 percent. Problems are motivation. By that I mean that the Japanese take great pride in doing a shared. In Japan there is a drive for the group Ц whether it is family, job well and getting it done no matter how much time is required.
company, or Government Ц to act as a unit.
23. There is dedication and sense of responsibility which have 14. Tremendous weight is given to the achievement of solidarity not been replaced by the machine age. Perhaps we are not so sophistiand unanimity. Unilateral decision-making or direction-taking is genercated yet.
ally avoided, or where it does occur for very practical urgent reasons, it 24. In my field Ц finance and securities Ц I am often asked by usually happens along with a sounding out of all concerned.
Westerners how Nomura Securities has managed to escape the paper 15. This brings us to the second part of this characteristic. When I logjam that American brokerage firms have faced. We, too have had use the term Уbottom-upФ, I am referring to a style of management Ц that problem.
perhaps what you would call keeping your finger on the pulse of the 25. The Tokyo Stock Exchange often has a turnover of between public, or the labor force, or other audiences.
or 300 million shares a day. This volume is many times more than that of 16. The difference is that in Japan we record the pulse and it has the New York Stock Exchange. How can we possibly handle this load real meaning, and it influences the direction finally taken at the top 26. First, we have very advanced computerization. Second, and regarding a specific important issue. In other words, Western style decimost important, the personnel responsible for processing all these transsion-making proceeds predominantly from top management and often actions stay and stay till all hours until the job is done. And their famidoes not consult middle management or the worker while in Japan, dilies understand that this is something that they must do, for the survival rection can be formulated at the lowest levels, travel upward through an and progress of the company and for their own mutual security as well.
organization and have an impact on the eventual decision. This is Уbot27. Perhaps in 20 years Ц or sooner Ц they will be more Westerntom-up.Ф ized and insist on going home at five oТclock. But today, still, most 17. There is also a characteristics style of communications in Jainsist on staying untill the job is done. There is concern for quality.
pan that is different from the Western way.
28. This willingness to pitch in is an important aspect of Japanese 18. The Japanese business person works to achieve harmony, problem-solving, and you find it at every leval.
even if the deal falls through, and will spend whatever time is necessary 29. Some years ago, the Matsushita company was having a very to determine a Уyou to youФ approach, communicating personal views bad time. Among the many measures taken, Mr. Matsushita, the founonly indirectly and with great sensitivity.
der and then chairman, became the manager of the sales department.
19. This places time in a different perspective. In Japan the West30. Also, when we at Nomura converted to computers about five ern deadline approach is secondary to a thorough job. Japanese are years ago, the new system eliminated the jobs of 700 bookkeepers and thorough in their meetings as well as their production. Thus Americans accountants who were using abacuses. We got rid of the abacuses but are often exasperated by the seemingly endless sequences of meetings we did not get rid of the people. We converted our bookkeepers and in many Japanese businesses.
accountants to securities sales people and some of these today are our 20. But where the American is pressing for a specific decision, leading sales people.
the Japanese is trying to formulate a rather broad direction.
65 31. Where there is willingness and intelligence, there is a place fill the tank and wipe the windshield. They often empty ashtrays and within the company to try and to succeed. In Japan, a personТs capabili- stop traffic to let the motorist back on the road.
ties are not forced into an inflexible specialty. And we feel the company 8. Department stores seem to have twice, it not three times the owes a worker something for loyalty and commitment. floor staff of American ones. Many stores wrap everything they sell.
This article is adapted from a speech by Mr. Terasawa, president Upscale customers donТt have to come in at all Ц the goods are taken to of Nomura Securities International, Inc., before the Commonwealth their homes for display and selection.
Club of San Francisco. 9. Feudal Japan evolved tight rituals of personal service. Many survive in the traditional inus called ryokan. Proprietors now when B. Happy Customers Matter of Honor among Japanese guests arrive and straighten the shoes they step out of. Welcoming tea and elaborate meals are brought to the rooms. Bedding is laid out and 1. In an age when personal service as a significant aspect of mercleared away in the morning. On departure, the bows may be held until chandising is dying out in the United States, Japan clings tenaciously to a guestТs car is out of sight.
10. But even in modern business, the cultureТs attention to detail 2. Service is viewed by people in Japan not as a luxury, but as an and doing things the УcorrectФ way fit well into the service mentality.
essential ingredient for the success of individual companies and the While Americans may find it demeaning to fuss over a customer, JapaJapanese economy as a whole.
nese worry Ц with reason Ц that their shop will be laughed at if they 3. Americans who move to Japan never get used to the range of donТt.
services and courtesies taken for granted here. To those old enough to 11. Perhaps the darkest spot on personal service in Japan is how remember how things Ц used to be at home, life can bring on twinges of remarkably impersonal it can be. Everyone is treated exactly alike. Emnostalgia.
ployeeТs greetings and directions, in fact, are often memorized from a 4. Supermarket check-out counters have two or three people ringcompany manual. After a monthТs stay in a hotel, guests may find the ing up and bagging groceries. Some stores deliver, with each bag arrivstaff still has no idea who they are.
ing neatly stapled closed. Dry ice is incerted alongside the frozen foods 12. Still, the Japanese view service as the glue that holds comto ensure that they donТt spoil on the way.
mercial relationships together if the correct personal contact and follow5. Television shops normally send a technician to install and fineup come with the first sale, a second is sure to come. Market share and tune a newly purchased set. The technical will rush back if anything loyal customers are the first goal, not short-term profit. Service may goes wrong. Car salespeople are known to bring new models around to cost but it helps ensure these more important objectives.
customersТ homes for test drives and loaners are available for people 13. While Americans in need of something think of stores, Japawhose cars are in fir repairs.
nese often think of dealers, individuals who supply and advise over the 6. There are no limits to what is home-delivered-video movies, years on product lines like sake, clothing and electronic equipment.
dry cleaning, health foods, rented tailcoats (this last one requires two 14. Memories of service may help a company weather hard times.
visits from the sales staff first for a fitting, second for delivery of the If a computer firm drops behind in product quality or price, its customaltered and freshly pressed garment). Office deliveries are common too, ers will not abandon it en masse. They would feel treacherous doing so.
especially of lunch.
After all, didnТt the company send a dozen times to answer questions on 7. Japanese barbers often give back messages as part of an ordithat little desk-top model Expand that to national scale and you have a nary haircut. If they remove a customerТs eyeglasses, they may polish more stable, predictable economy and job market in the Japanese view.
the lenses before returning them. Self-service gasoline has yet to make its appearance here in any significant way. At the minimum, attendants 67 15. Japanese officials often say one reason why many American latter. In four years, her one-women operation has grown into a booming companies do poorly in Japan is because people canТt believe they will business called BetsyТs Bobbins Inc., which employs 25 people.
give good service. Even if an American machine tope a Japanese one in Although it meant giving up a weekly paycheck and regular price and quality, the buyer will be suspicious. Will I have to phone hours, Bob Satter quit as manager of a Connecticut retail store to turn Houston every time something goes wrong He may wonder. his photography hobby into a business. УBecause I had a wife and two 16. Service is plugged as being УfreeФ, but of course, is not. Each young children to support,Ф he says, Уmost people thought I was crazy.Ф woman who wraps and each man who lugs groceries is part of why But 12-hour days and seven-day weeks paid off. Twenty years later, prices are so high in Japan. They are also part of why unemployment is heТs far ahead of where he would have been as a hired hand: he shares a so law. Some economists, in fact view some of these jobs as disguised large, modern studio with another photographer; heТs put both sons welfare programs, financed through high prices rather than taxes.
through first-rate colleges; he owns a 30-foot sailboat; heТs saved 17. Invariably, as Japan internationalizes, some firms are opting enough for a comfortable future Ц and he enjoys his work.
to follow the foreign pattern and cut service to lower prices. SupermarWhat ties these two examples together is more than luck, persiskets and chain stores have gained ground. Department stores have done tence and staggeringly hard work. Both Satter and Isaacson share qualiaway with the woman who once bowed to every customer who stepped ties and backgrounds that, experts tell us, characterize most successful onto an escalator. Some shops now have a tape machine, not a person, entrepreneurs. УWhile you can learn entrepreneurial skills,Ф says John saying УirashaimaseФ or welcome, at the door.
R. Braun, psychology professor and testing expert at the University of 18. Proliferation of American fast-food is another sign of these Bridgeport in Connecticut, Уpeople who start out with special attributes times. mcDonaldТs now has 173 outlets in Japan. But characteristically, have an advantage.Ф cleanliness and employee courtesy seem to be generally higher than in Today, increasing numbers of Americans are opening their own the United States.
businesses. Last year more than 230,000 new companies were launched.
19. The Japanese over the years have borrowed heavily in comBut the risks are great. In 1988 half of all the companies that failed in mercial ideas from the United States but generally look elsewhere conthe United States were five years old or less.
cerning service. There are exceptions, however, such as American-style Could you make it as an entrepreneur There is no sure way of home-delivery pizza. In the last two years, motorbikes darting around predicting Ц no matter what traits you possess. Nevertheless, a test dewith pizza have been growing in numbers on Tokyo streets. Delivery in signed by the Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance 30 minutes is guaranteed. Or the customer gets about $5 back.
Co., working with Braun, can provide important indicators.
УWeТre interested in identifying potential entrepreneurs because TEXT all the agents who sell our insurance are self-employed,Ф explains Donald J. Schuenke, the companyТs chief executive officer.
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