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Most Japanese CEOs were promoted because they are really good at cost-cutting, not doing something new. Those people can’t manage in this kind of situation where you can find more business opportuniti

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Takeshi Niinami, chairman of Lawson Inc, saying Japanese businesses need different managers who are more willing to take risks as the country emerges from 15 years of deflation that hampered innovation. (Bloomberg)

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I seems to me that in confucian societies like Japan, when a company enjoys success, the credit and any reward is given to the group as a whole, but failure on the otherhand, always seems to be attributed to a specific person who bears all the blame!

In other words, there is absolutely no up-side or incentive for managers or young employees in Japan to stick their necks out to propose something new or risky.

They have actually done studies on this in China where they found that Chinese/Asian people are no less 'creative' than their western counterparts (contrary to stereotypes), but it's just that societies in Asia are usually structured in such a way that it's much more rational to not put forward and advocate your own ideas.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They have actually done studies on this in China where they found that Chinese/Asian people are no less 'creative' than their western counterparts (contrary to stereotypes), but it's just that societies in Asia are usually structured in such a way that it's much more rational to not put forward and advocate your own ideas.

M3M3M3 -- that supports my experience. I worked for a multi-national entity in my initial assignment in Tokyo, so had occassion to work with other Asia offices, including a great deal with Hong Kong. And the employees there are much more aggressive and anxious to take on individual responsibility than those in Japan.

And I agree 100% overall with Niinami-san's quote. But since the next generation of "leaders" is currently in their 40"s and 50's, and well-entrenched in the Japan Inc. model, the potential for change in the next twenty years or so is not good. Not a pretty picture.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

There are two problems inherent in this comment:

Innovation doesn't have to come from the CEO. They need to know how to foster and support it in others, but this idea that a single man or woman can be responsible for every major idea to improve a business is just nonsense. It is also this pressure on CEOs to be seen as the originator of major ideas that causes them to steal ideas from junior employees and generally act in a dishonest fashion... a dishonesty that taints the entire business environment as less senior managers copy the CEO's actions right down to shop floor level and leads to nobody being willing to share any of their ideas with colleagues.

Cost-cutting has its place, but given the increasingly high salaries given to CEOs isn't the logical place to start with their own salaries?
2 ( +2 / -0 )

I seems to me that in confucian societies like Japan, when a company enjoys success, the credit and any reward is given to the group as a whole, but failure on the otherhand, always seems to be attributed to a specific person who bears all the blame!

Maybe when someone has actually done something wrong. But when it is a general failure, the whole group pays. For more information ask any salaryman at a Japanese company how salary changes (increases and decreases) work in their company.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well he better think of some new ideas for Lawson! I never go there!

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I'm thinking Sony. Yup, let's cut costs by removing this department and letting go this amount of people. Great! I just saved a bunch of money for my company. Time to get promoted! Now, I just got to keep cutting costs until my company only consists of me and then I can just promote myself! Best company ever.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Folks get promoted here because of a) age b) gender c) kissing butt and d) being yes men. The J companies that are doing well here and abroad are usually run by "freaks" (by Japanese standards) who are willing to take chances and do something different - Softbank, Rakuten, Uniglo... are all coming to mind.

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