Making the move...

Lynn Fredricks lynn at
Fri Mar 17 14:04:34 EST 2006

> > many Japanese management concepts such as Total Quality Control, 
> > Quality Control circles, small group activities, labor 
> relations. Key 
> > elements of Kaizen are quality, effort, involvement of all 
> employees, 
> > willingness to change, and communication.
> Having been involved with Total Quality initiatives, Quality 
> Control Circles, etc, on this side of the pond I can say from 
> experience that they are doomed to failure because of 
> underlying cultural differences.
> Labor and social relationships are not structured in western 
> societies to provide the level of trust and support required 
> to allow them to be effective.

Putting on my Proactive ( hat here on one of
my favorite topics :-)

Ill preface this by saying I lived in Japan for six years, have an office in
Japan, Japanese spouse and bi-lingual family household. We have a good mix
of Japanese staff. My kid has been cleaning my clock in spoken and written
Japanese for years :-(

I think almost all Japanese initiatives fail in the US for the same reason
why many foreign endeavors don't make it in Japan - they werent adapted into
processes towards a specific goal. And they apply differently in different
industries, because there is a different mindset by industry - the
automobile industry vs software is a perfect one.

Total Quality Management didn't originate in Japan, but it is worshipped
there. Japanese society is built around cooperation, unity, and fair
treatment within the group - and you disappoint and fail the group if your
product doesn't improve. It doesn't nourish creativity however, though the
government has taken steps in their education system to help rectify that.

There are some very good software products from Japan, but it isnt a culture
that nurtures a maverick mentality that can result in lots of super
programmers. You could point to console games as an industry dominated by
the Japanese, but I think if you really looked at the way most of those
games are structured (and that they license a lot of foreign 3D technology),
you would be less impressed.

But to go back to the point - adaptions Ive seen have been terrible - either
self defeating or utterly silly. I think there are quality measures that can
be gleaned and adapted to a certain point, with good results. Its just
extremely rare.

Best regards,

Lynn Fredricks
Worldwide Business Operations
Runtime Revolution, Ltd

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