Patterns of Creativity in Japan Lessons from Successful Japanese Companies – A Resource

Create Development Centers

Divide your R&D into independent ‘development centers’ responsible for related but different product categories.

Placing authority for final products within each design center encourages competition between divisions. It also makes it easier for departments within each center to communicate, increasing decision-making speed.

Smaller centers leads to employees being engaged in a greater range of activities and thus increased morale (being less of a ‘small cog’).

Example: Toyota did this to combat its bloated development organisation which became unwieldy during the excesses of the bubble period. The engineers appreciated the chance to be responsible for ‘more than just windscreen wipers’ for the whole of their career.

Source: Katayama, O. (1996). Japanese business into the 21st Century: strategies for success.