Managing for Creativity in Japan Talking with Foreign Executives in Japan

Process Focused Behaviour

“One thing I have noticed is that while people always talk about how polite the Japanese are I don’t really think that it is politeness. Actually I think that it is formality. It is a process driven way of doing things. There’s a way to drink tea, there’s a way to place your chopsticks on the table, there is so much process in how to do things that the casual observer says ‘how polite’ – but it’s not politeness it’s form. If I was ever to write a paper on human behaviour that would be my particular area of interest. I think that part of the reason behind this might have to do with the fact that so much of the population lives on a very small amount of land, and to keep people from killing each other I think that a lot of these ways of interacting and acting were developed over time (I think if you took the 35 million French that there are and squeezed them all into Kanto/Kansai we would be pulling each other into the streets). Maybe this started in the Edo period where suddenly there was no more war. If you become very process focused then you avoid a lot of aggressive and anti-social behavior.”

This post is part of a series of excerpts from interviews with foreign executives in Japan, focusing on creativity. Excerpts have been edited for confidentiality.
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