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 > 日本のビジネスが『スター・ウォーズ』から学べること(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

日本のビジネスが『スター・ウォーズ』から学べること(後編)(7/7ページ)

2015.12.18

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 さてさて、お待ちかねの私が書いた今回のコラムの英文(原文)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!

What Japanese Business Can Learn From Star Wars (Part two)

Is Japan the Galactic Empire or the Rebels?

4. Discussion Style

The Empire seems to have a Confucian communication style in that staff only speak when spoken to, and listen respectfully to their leaders in meetings, which is similar to Japan. The latest movie’s villainous leader, Kylo Ren respects his predecessor Darth Vader, keeping his melted mask as a symbol of veneration and copying his dark cloaked costume in a conservative Confucian way. The rebels however are always engaging in active, informal debate in the American way, with equal roles sharing ideas, but the boss finally deciding - in a fast clear, top down way.

Japanese companies can have a problem when their formal, Confucian behaviour is used in an informal, Socratic and what Hilke calls “illusion of equality” workplace such as America. On the one hand, Japanese managers can get upset when they give an instruction and all the staff ask “Why?” or suggest alternatives instead of respectfully quietly obeying. (They don’t realize the staff are not challenging their position - its just to clarify key points in a low context way so they can do a better job for them) On the other hand, despite actually preferring a rather flat shared decision-making style, most Japanese managers use politer language talking upwards to bosses, and less polite language talking downwards to their staff. However, Americans would use the same language style to each other, so bosses or workers might say “Could you do this?” to each other. In English the command form of verbs is mostly only used for dogs, (“Come!” “Sit!”) since ordering people roughly around could be seen as “power harassment”. Similarly complaints to non-Japanese staff should be made privately, in a positive way, focusing on their worth as a person and the behaviour they would like them to change to. In Japan public criticism can be seen as a learning opportunity for all - and fixed up later by a drinking session together, but this would likely cause problems overseas. Clearly, there is lots of power harassment in the Galactic Empire, and it looks like American staff would not enjoy working there - and would certainly file lots of legal complaints to HR.

VERDICT: Empire similar to: Japan, Rebels similar to: US

5. Decision-Making Style

Until 150 years ago, during its Samurai age, Japan could have seemed as top down as the Death Star, and leaders were known to order the deaths of managers who failed them. However, in post-war Japan, due to protective labor laws and social customs, leaders have a flatter management style, making time-consuming efforts to get wide consensus for all new initiatives. They cannot even fire incompetent staff. Instead they give them increasingly less responsibility, until eventually they just sit idly by the window awaiting retirement (known as “madogiwa-zoku” - the “window-sill tribe.”) Another aspect of flat management practices is that in Japanese companies it can be acceptable to discuss concerns about your job directly with HR or the manager of your direct boss. In the USA managers can fire their staff for not achieving goals (after a “performance improvement plan” of at least one warning period, some training and new-goal setting) and it would be considered disloyal to complain about your boss within the organization. Likewise until encountering the run-away storm trooper in the most recent story, we have not seen Empire staff complaining about their managers.

Japanese companies should consider the fate of the Empire in Star Wars and switch to praising their staff more often. Praise is motivating, clear about best practice behaviours, and costs nothing. Modern management theory, and coaching principles, such as Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y ideas suggest that workers are more productive, learn faster and make better decisions if you motivate them with support, benefits and encouragement (Y theory) instead of top down commands, fear and criticism (X theory). Emulating the rebels, who share a clear vision of good behaviours, then catch workers doing things right, and praise them publicly, may be the best way to spread Japanese management style through a global organization.

VERDICT: Empire similar to: US, Rebels similar to: Japan

6. Direction

Unlike the evil empire, the rebels are seemingly reacting flexibly to their opponents - without a written detailed plan of campaign - which is similar to Japanese management style. While the empire seems to use the IT equivalents of voicemail, enterprise computing and big data to track their citizens’ many activities, the rebels use old school human-to-human networks (including passing 3D hologram messages by hand) and their leaders try to spread their positive values and ideology via the Force. Instead of relying on a top down hierarchy, this allows flexible decisions made by teams in the field. Japanese companies are similar to Toyota, and you can imagine them teaching their new global staff such as Luke Skywalker to “Use the Toyota Way, Luke” .

Behaviours and shared values promoted by Japanese “Way” contents include teamwork, craftsmanship, Kaizen (continuous improvement) and always supporting the customer to provide top quality. The Jedi are similar to historical Japanese "bushido" martial culture in their flowing robes, swordsmanship and high societal morals. And their craftsmanship is also similar. Light sabers are of a quality level that cannot be copied in the age of the Empire. They are custom-made for their owners, and seemingly last forever. The Jedi learn their trade from observing their masters in a respectful Confucian society without manuals, much as Japanese learn 'monozukuri' skills over many years of OJT (on the job training). As a land poor in resources, which needed to make long lasting high quality goods and avoid waste of any kind, it is no coincidence that Japan 1000 years ago made the best swords in the world - and today makes the best cars in the world.

But Japan’s top management thinker Kenichi Omae talks about how companies now need “0-1 thinking” - strategically creating new markets and innovative products from zero instead of incremental end user innovation from customer requests and craftsmen. This is similar to the idea of having a clear vision of “blue ocean” for a company, in which they can be first with a category-killing product such as a Sony Walkman or Apple iPhone and retain profitable market leadership - instead of “red ocean” in which similar competitors compete on price in a race to the bottom, in water filled with each others blood. The Empire twice created a unique Death Star weapon for enforcing tax payments from planets or destroying said planets, but the empire’s suffered from design flaws in their products which enabled Rebel competitors with custom built technology to destroy them.

The ideal Japanese company would combine both kaizen (flexible, always improving, shared value team work) and blue ocean (1-0) strategies to provide a high quality product loved by current customers whilst innovating into new market segments where they can provide unique value.

VERDICT: Empire similar to: US, Rebels similar to: Japan

7. Trust Relationships and Solutions

The rebel alliance was based on win-win friendship, flexibility and trust, much as Japanese clients and suppliers work together, whereas the Galactic Empire was based on win-lose threats and enforcement of one-sided agreements, perhaps similarly to how American companies develop innovative technology and then defend their patents with legal wars.

Future successful global business is likely to be based on open innovation and collaboration, so Japan at least has a good foundation in wanting win-win relationships. The issue for Japanese companies though is that they try to re-invent everything in-house and have English language challenges, which may keep them from joining global open source technology discussions as much as they should.

Japanese companies should remember that global clients are in rapidly changing markets and mostly want quick solutions rather than slowly building long-term relationships. As a result, their global sales and marketing often mistakenly focuses on what kind of people they are, rather that what their competitive benefits are, so their marketing doesn’t drive results. If Japanese companies could speed up their client needs-checking and decision-making for sales proposals, and have faster systems for purchasing needed items - then sales would rise and costs would fall. Then Japanese high quality products could rule the galaxy again.

VERDICT: Empire similar to: US, Rebels similar to: Japan

Overall Verdict

Even though both countries have unique tendencies and a similar mix of differences and similarities to the Star Wars antagonists, on balance, there may be more cultural similarities between Japan with the rebels, and America with the empire. Personally I love both countries, but I was pleasantly surprised by this result, because superficially foreigners might expect the opposite. It just shows that Star Wars has an intriguing complex universe, and that there is more to Japan than meets the eye.

Valuable Lessons from the Star Wars Story for Japanese Organizations:

Japanese multinationals and new companies can survive and succeed globally by getting the mix right between their core culture, and being inclusive to the best of other cultural styles. The rebels in Star Wars were successful by being inclusive - allowing all races to become leaders and contribute according to their best skills. Like Japanese business culture, they reacted more flexibly to survive and win against larger and stronger opponents by keeping to their core values of supporting their people, close teamwork, flat decision making and a flexible working style. Like recent global business culture, the rebels combined this with a training system for their leaders (the Jedi) which combined theory and practice, and risk-taking, fast-moving agile strategy. And they leveraged elements of traditional business culture: including decision-making based on challenging, open discussion in meetings, and clear sharing of their values (such as to follow the good side of the Force). Similarly, in Japanese companies, leaders would do well to super-clearly share their vision, as well as to explain their company’s “Way” so that their diverse global staff can achieve shared goals smoothly and clearly together.

Please join our free intercultural leadership workshops in JIC Yaesu campus:

1:Global Mindset~In English:
1/7 (Thu 19:00~21:30), 1/17 (Sun. 09:30~12:00) (First Class Free)

2:J-Global Innovation Forums :

  • HR Professionals: 1/12 (Tue. 08:30~10:00, ¥500 w/ Coffee & Croissants)
  • Sales Professionals: 2/9(Tue. 19:00~21:30, Free)
  • Marketing Professionals: 2/10 (Wed. 19:00~21:30, Free)

http://jglobalinstitute.org
J-Global Institute of Collaboration, B2 Yaesuguchi Kaikan, 1-7-20 Yaesu, Chuo-ku, Tokyo,

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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