What can we learn from the Japanese?
Author: Harm Custers – Manager Marketing & Sales Flowers at Takii Europe
“What is it like – to work for a Japanese company?” is a question I often hear. When I visited Japan last July I paid special attention to this topic. Although I am not a cultural expert, I herewith would like to share some of my experiences with you.
Quoting XIV Dalai Lama: “No matter what part of the world we come from, fundamentally we are all the same human beings. We have the same basic needs and concerns”. I could not agree with him more: I do not notice big differences between working with my Japanese or European colleagues. We have more similarities than we have differences.
It truly feels like working WITH my Japanese colleagues and not FOR them. Harmony is important in the Japanese culture and having consensus as a group is more important than an individual opinion. That is different when compared to the Dutch culture. Another interesting difference is that the Dutch “say what they think”, the Japanese “think what they say”. The Dutch are more straightforward (as you might know!).
The decision-making process takes longer in Japan as they want to know all the details to reach to a thoughtful, deliberate decision. Making good decisions on important topics therefore takes time. Once decided, the implementation can go amazingly fast. In Holland, it is often vice versa: the decision can be taken rather fast, later the implementation takes longer to work out the details and reach consensus.
What I particularly like about the Japanese business approach, is that they think long-term. Short-term results can be of importance but are always inferior to the long-term goals. Companies have long-term goals like continuity, respect or quality. Also at Takii you can clearly see this. Companies take very well care of their employees. In return employees are very loyal to their employer: long days and lifetime employment are no exception. Japanese are honest, sincere, and disciplined at work. They are committed to improving themselves every day. They also have a hard time saying “no” – as this may disturb the harmony. And having a good relationship is fundamental.
Is every Japanese the same? Of course not! Do I prefer one culture over the other? No! But it is important to understand the differences, which gives an extra dimension to my work. Moreover, it is fascinating to experience the different cultures. A true enrichment of my life and my personal values: I try to combine the best of the various cultures.
良い一日を (‘Yoi ichiniche o’) = Have a nice day!