“If you, as a manager, provide a template or formula and say “go for it”, they (your Japanese employees) will do a beautiful job. But if you just say “here’s the problem, find a solution”, they’re lost.”
“If you study Japanese art like sumi-e or ikebana you will notice that everything is run by rules. It is a very rule-laden culture. In a corporate environment working in a field like technology for instance, ground-breaking is a difficult thing to find in Japan. The incremental improvement – taking an idea and really making it better and working it out – is their real strength.”
Example: From a confidential interview with a former executive of the Japanese offices of several large multinational companies.
Source: Confidential Interview (2008)