Managing for Creativity in Japan Talking with Foreign Executives in Japan

Observe and Listen

“I think it is important to observe and to listen. Not just listen. I think that’s relevant everywhere but people aren’t very vocal here – 60% of communication is unsaid. So 60% of everything the Japanese people do is non-verbal. It’s the itch of the nose or the crook of the head – that’s what you’re looking for. You wouldn’t pick up on that if (a) you didn’t understand Japanese culture and (b) you were listening on a tape-recorder. For example, if you ask a consumer what they think about something they might say “it’s OK” but they will have done something else which will tell you that it’s not OK. So you definitely you need their opinions because that’s how you innovate (by understanding insights) but they are never going to tell you what you want so you need understand what their problems are. We go into a lot of consumer homes, go in and see their problems….”