Making the move...

Dave Cragg dcragg at
Fri Mar 17 18:29:13 EST 2006

On 17 Mar 2006, at 18:26, Mark Wieder wrote:

> Marielle-
> Friday, March 17, 2006, 4:44:16 AM, you wrote:
>> 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.

Like Lynn, I've spent a long time in Japan, and my life still carries  
the trappings.

I agree with what you say, Mark, but I think it isn't the whole  
picture. In the early 80s, a guy at a Japanese steel company  
explained to me how his time was being taken up with visiting  
Americans determined to learn the secrets of Japanese TQC.  He felt  
they were wasting their time. Not because they were incapable of  
learning, but because there was nothing to learn. He said that  
Westerners will debate and evaluate various methods until they decide  
on the best approach. Japanese corporations, on the other hand, will  
take any method, good or bad, and make it work. Having subsequently  
worked with a number of large Japanese corporations, I think his  
comments were very shrewd. In other words, it's not that Japanese  
methods transferred to the west are doomed to failure, but rather  
that any method adopted by Japanese corporations is doomed to  
success. (But that was in the 80s, and plenty has changed since then.)


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