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

Play Rugby

As opposed to ‘division of labor’ the concept of ‘shared division of labor’ is employed in the innovation process of Japanese organizations.

This means that phases of the innovation process overlap and are flexibly connected (like a rugby team). This allows participants at one stage to have an input right through the project.

This can create conflict but allows for greater group interaction and more redundancy of information.

Compare this to the relay style of European and U.S. product development.

This facilitates knowledge sharing, collaborative/simultaneous problem solving etc (but, it can grow unwieldy and cumbersome – coordination costs can grow too high)

Example: Toyota

Source: Katayama, O. (1996). Japanese business into the 21st Century: strategies for success. ; Nonaka, I. (1990). Redundant, overlapping organization: a Japanese approach to managing the innovation process. California Management Review, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 27-38.