Managing for Creativity in Japan Talking with Foreign Executives in Japan

Client Relationships

“There are benefits to working with Japanese clients. It does take a long time to establish relationships. Trust takes a long time to build. In my case, a white woman walks into a Japanese office and says “I can help you increase market share and come up with new ideas” – they look at me and go “what the hell?”. But once they can get their heads around the fact that we can provide value……Let me put it this way, it’s like being an anthropologist – you can’t study your own kind. I’m from Canada and I can’t study people from Canada because I can’t see them. So the beauty of what we do is that we can always see what is happening but then we can look to the West and contextualise. That is obviously very valuable.
So, with Japanese clients, once you have established a relationship and trust they are more likely to go ahead with you the following year in business. Even if budgets are tight they might try to renegotiate but they won’t drop you whereas Western companies will say that the budgets are tight and call you in a years time and hope that the relationship is still there. Japanese clients might try and support you a bit better. The flip side of that is that in the relationships you do need to work much harder.”