トップ > ジョン・リンチのどっきり異文化! グローバル・アイズ > 欧米ではありえない、日本人の「手帳好き」(後編)

ジョン・リンチのどっきり異文化! グローバル・アイズビジネス

欧米ではありえない、日本人の「手帳好き」(後編)(6/6ページ)

2015.11.20

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 さて、続いては私が書いた今回のコラムの英文です。英語が得意な方、または外国人の方はぜひこちらをお読みください!

Japan 'Global Eyes'- Intercultural Business Insights (Part two)

For a western educated person like me, trust and privacy aren't so important. I prefer the freedom of having few secrets, to meet interesting diverse people by being super friendly, and to try out any kind of useful solution straight away - without worrying too much about whether the solution provider will be a long-term partner or not. Life is short, and it feels good to try new things and share experiences with new people. About a dozen people, including my wife, ex-wife, and all my staff and partners can see and edit my entire schedule online, covering all my activities from business appointments to personal tasks like 'buy toilet roll' and 'take out burnable rubbish' to 'buy rose' or 'arrange monthly date'.

My life would fall apart without the reminders of my digital diary. One Nikkei Woman interviewee called her 'techo' (paper diary / planner) "my brain". And my iPhone really feels to me like a helpful little robot guide - since I always get lost in my thoughts or a digital book and need constant digital reminders to stay on track. These days if I get on a train I always calculate the arrival time, and set an alarm to vibrate one minute earlier, even if its only two stops away. I haven't missed a train stop in a year, since I started that life hack. And digital is so much better than paper, in the sense that the data is both password protected AND backed up online, so I couldn't lose the diary contents if I tried. And I can carry years of data around with me, too.

My Japanese friend told me she likes a paper diary because you can read it in a wide, general way, like a newspaper, whereas on a digital one you can only do pin-point searches. This is true - although a full screen calendar on a PC screen synched with a mobile phone seems pretty informative. I wonder if the reasons are really strong enough for choosing analog over digital.

3. Custom Solutions for Customers

In Japan, just as there are hundreds of kinds of drinks in the convenience store for every consumer lifestyle segment, (and manufacturers keep changing flavors and packages to keep customer interest and demand high,) so there are hundreds of different kinds of diaries, with new variations appearing every year. There are huge variations in diary format, such as Monthly, Left-Sided-Vertical, 1-Page-Per-Day, Free Dates, and versions customised per purpose, such as to do tasks efficiently, get work life balance, achieve dreams, or 'find love' . In Japan, there is seemingly a diary format for every type of customer need. And like the word root itself, the word 'customer' here always seems to have the concept of 'custom' quality attached to it.

In Japan, with the strictest, most 'picky' customers in the world, people want the reassurance of 'over-spec' - as quality they can always rely on. In a similar way to their business card, a person's relationship with a paper diary that matches their life needs here has an almost spiritual element. People may try out several types of diary each year until they find just the right one, and like trusted partners, when they find the perfect match they will stick faithfully together for years. This seems similar to the 'keiretsu' (corporate alliance) system, with customers pairing with vendors for decades because they are known and trusted. In contrast, foreign capital companies often seem to start every year by sending out an RFP (request for proposals) on their key business areas to new vendors, and changing their ad agency to 'freshen things up' every few years can even be company policy for marketers.

Magazines in Japan are full of specialist advice about making your choice of diary as a kind of lifestyle help, too. People trust expert advisors in Japan, thanks to their Confucian system of learning answers from teachers in school, and from 'sempai' (seniors) or mentors in companies, rather than putting more weight on learning by themselves from personal trial and error, as many Westerners do. To preserve relationships, mistakes are to be avoided where Japanese customers and stakeholders are concerned. And wrong choices should be avoided when free time can be so rare and precious. No wonder that there is a diary type for every kind of job and lifestyle choice in Japan - and a highly detailed 'best practice' process to learn from an expert in that field - including which pen to use, and exactly where to write what in the diary.

Choosing a pocket diary is also a lot to do with 'turning a new leaf' (itself a diary-related phrase) to start afresh in the next year. New Year's resolutions are popular in the West, but 2013 research showed in the USA that only 8% are achieved. I make such resolutions every year on an electronic file but these seem to disappear deep into the hard disk somewhere, and by November now I thankfully have no memory at all of what I wrote back in January. (This helps me avoid disappointing myself: the resolutions were probably to get lots of sales and prioritize my kids and wife. Oh, well, there is still a month left to catch up:-) On the other hand, your pocket diary is always showing your new years resolutions when you turn to that first page, if you are brave enough to write them in such a visible place.

For Japanese, like visiting Meiji Jingu shrine or climbing Fuji to see the new dawn in freezing temperatures, getting a new diary is a ritual of starting a new year, but I have never heard any Japanese share their new year's resolutions. Westerners advise telling everyone your goals (usually losing weight, saving money, and being thoughtful to family - according to that 2013 research) by writing them on your wall, and in your blog post. In contrast, Japanese seem to want to keep their dreams more private. Since, besides being a consultant and intercultural trainer, I am an executive coach, I often get chances to ask Japanese what their dreams and life goals are, and few can easily tell me. Most say they never think about it.

This made me realize what I love most about living in Japan. In England we think about ourselves first, and then if we have time and energy to spare, we think about others. But Japan is the opposite. In Japan, first we think about others, and then only if we have time and energy to spare, we think about ourselves. In this busy modern world where every page in our scheduler is always full , it means that British can end up rather self-centered, and Japanese can end up never thinking about their dream: getting their enjoyment instead from providing 'omote nashi' (thoughtful hospitality) to others. But it is good to have balance: only if you have a detailed goal, your dream can come true.

Perhaps then it is good to see diary experts holding out the offer of finding work life balance, and achieving fulfilling goals. I hope you can too!

GLOBAL BUSINESS LIFEHACKS - FOR POCKET DIARY USERS

1. Names are power! Write names in your schedule as you meet people - before you forget them. (They may not have cards, so ask twice, and secretly jot it down at the first chance) Compared to Japanese, which allows sentences with no subject, and using titles instead of names, we seem to say people's names up to five times more in English. It can help you appear friendly, clear and polite.

2. Add global safety time! Accept that foreigners may deliver late, and tell them earlier completion dates, with suitably large penalties and rewards to enforce timeliness. (Make sure penalties are much higher than overtime costs in your supplier's country, too, as suppliers may just take the cheaper path!)

3. Sharing is caring! Share your new year's resolutions to give them more power. Make goals clear and realistic, with due dates. And keep them in view for months until they safely become ingrained as a habit.

4. Go digital! Use a wiki to create online manuals - encouraging everyone to contribute and update them. And share calendars and task lists too - via easy-to-use, free or paid cloud solutions, such as Evernote, Wunderlist or Basecamp.

5. Be you! Get the diary type that suits you. Check it's big enough for your appointments and allows easy note-taking of key ideas only (Mostly avoid writing so you can maintain eye contact with your counterpart - and write key tasks only). If you can't give up paper then at least keep photos of your diary pages forever using a smartphone app.

ジョン・リンチ(じょん・りんち)
起業家、異文化ビジネスコンサルタント
ジョン・リンチ(じょん・りんち)

 25年余り日本に在住し、日本の独特なコミュニケーションスタイルと価値観に日々接し、驚きつつ、楽しんでいる。異文化間教育に力を入れており、外国人の日本に対する理解が深まるよう努力する一方で、日本人のグローバル化も推進する。また、日本流ビジネスの持つ最良の特徴である「品質」「顧客サービス」「チームワーク」を世界に広めることを目的に、東京・八重洲に「J-グローバル・インスティチュート」(JIC)を設立。幅広いタイプの無料ワークショップ(英語/日本語)を提供している。このコラムでは、日本で見つけたさまざまな事象をグローバルな視点でとらえなおし、日本と日本のビジネスパーソンのグローバル化について探求する。

J-グローバル・インスティチュート
http://jglobalinstitute.org/

Author’s Profile: Jon Lynch

 Jon Lynch is an intercultural business consultant and entrepreneur who loves Japan after 25 years here, and is happily surprised everyday by how unique Japanese communication style and values are. Jon wants to spread intercultural education so that foreigners can understand Japan better, and Japanese can more successfully grow their business and culture globally to help serve the world.

 Jon founded J-Global Institute of Collaboration (JIC) in Yaesu, Tokyo as a think tank and alternative business school to teach the best points of Japanese business style to the world: quality, customer service and teamwork. This column will explore how views of Japan globally are changing, and how Japanese business people are globalizing.

 As part of our commitment to help Japan globalize, JIC offers many types of free workshops in English or Japanese, and ongoing options for deeper training areas. Let’s globalize – Japan-style! Click here to find the best free kick-off class for your needs. www.jglobalinstitute.org

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  • 1.ああ無情2015.12.04

    日本人と外国人、働き方から生活習慣まで全く違うのだから、手帳にかぎった話ではないでしょう。

    ただし、筆者の比較には参考になる点も多いです。
    外国では、こんなスタイルで友人と付き合っているのだなというのが新鮮な感想でした。やはり、日本は儒教的ライフスタイルで、手帳にこまごまと予定を記入して一年を終えてしまうのでしょうか?


    いえいえ、そんなことはありませんよ。
    日本人だって、手帳を持ちながら、大いにポジティブに変革をする生き方をしている人もいます。前向きな人で、快活に生きている人もいるのです。

    私は、律儀で生真面目な日本人と、バイタリティある外国人の良いところを真似ていくことにします。

  • 2.手帳派2015.11.30

    「その結果、日本人は世界で最も厳しく口やかましい顧客で、安心を求めるあまりオーバースペックになりがちです」

    そのおかげで海外での日本製品への信頼が築かれたのだと思っています。

    自分で書いた文字は入力されたテキストより愛着もあります。その時の気分で文字も変わりますから読み返すときにその時の気持ちまで思い返すこともできる。そのあたりまで含めて手帳が愛されているのだと思います。「合理化」だけを基準にすることが正しいわけではないと思います。

  • 3.手帳嫌いの日本人2015.11.26

    最近北東アジアに行ってきたが、朝食後にフロントを通りかかると初老の日本人がフロントマン相手に日本語で吼えている。「XX人は時間も約束も守らない!日本人は時間に厳格なんだ!」と何度も繰り返している。
    フロントマンは片言の日本語で何やら話しかけているが相手は激高していて話が殆ど通じない。だが今やるべきことは壊されてしまった彼の信頼感や傷ついたプライドを癒すことではなくて次善策の立案だ。
    日本人は時間を大体において厳守する。自分のためではなくて相手を思いやって。穿った見方をすると相手を思いやる自分に誇りを感じて。
    でも外国では価値観が異なる。
    その価値観が蔑ろにされたら、同じように相手が後悔することを期待して激高してもたぶん「ハァ?」とされる。
    スケジュール記録の媒体として何を使うのかをきっかけにした異文化論は面白かった。

  • 4.手帖使いの自営業者2015.11.21

    穿った見方かもしれないが、「外国人は納期を守らないことを理解しましょう」を受け入れろと言われつつ、外国では手帳を使わないことが普通だと説かれても釈然としない気がしてしまう。
    手帳への記入は自分自身で予定を検証・確認して戒めるという意味もあり、筆者自身が名詞に関して言及しているのと同様に、儀式的かもしれないが、相応の意味はあるように思う。
    外国人が手帳をつけるようになれば納期を守ってくれるようになるという単純な問題ではないということは充分に理解しているが、その納期を設定する際にどれだけの確実性があるかはきちんと考えて欲しいと思ってしまう。日本人特有の神経質な意見と言われてしまうと、言い返す言葉はないのだけれど。

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