By: Abel Gómez Medina
I had the opportunity to make a business trip to the “Land of the Rising Sun” and was able to submerge myself in their customs and traditions. A couple of weeks was enough to begin to understand the history, practices and culture which is presented to us in books, reports and conferences that have led Japan to be ranked among the top places worldwide in quality, manufacturing, service, innovation and more.
It is amazing how Japanese people live principles on a daily basis such as “respect every individual” and “lead with humility.” These two principles are taught from a very early age and are the basis for their everyday life. So, what is it that they have or do that we do not? Are they more intelligent or maybe taller and stronger? No, definitely not. The difference lies in that they are lovers of teamwork through principles. They simply live them as part of their daily routine both inside and outside their workplaces. They do not worry as much about security fences, police equipment or alarms, they worry how to help each other, how to make things better. If something does not belong to them, then it belongs to someone else.
When I asked the president at Anvex how he trained his managers, he answered, “Every manager must work inside the manufacturing process for a period of time. It is important for them to understand how their decisions within their department will affect the rest of the organization, otherwise it is impossible for them to make assertive decisions. Every single manager knows perfectly well what happens in each process because their desks are in the middle of the operation. This way they know when something happens as it is happening and not hours afterward. We do not have offices, they are not considered necessary. Private issues or problems are handled in conference or training rooms.”
In Nagoya, the capital of the Japanese automotive industry, people understand that if someone makes a mistake while driving, their intention is not to hurt or break transit regulations, but rather assume the driver was distracted and needs an alert, like the honk of a horn, to begin correcting it.
If we translate these attitudes to the organization then the same things will happen. Rather than humiliate personnel, leaders encourage them to be alert at all times in their job through good treatment, making them feel as part of a family.
It can seem like a very simple concept, but behind these behaviors there is logical thinking that has its foundation in respect. The company’s principles reflect those of the individuals. At Japanese companies like Anvex, they value order, making things better and respecting one another. And this is what makes the difference.