Managing for Creativity in Japan Talking with Foreign Executives in Japan

Pyramids and Funnels

“In terms of the creative process it is almost like the Japanese work on a pyramid basis – building and building and finally reaching the answer at the top. Western agencies are more a funnel approach – you’ve got all these ideas and then you flush them out.

I think that this is a trait of both team-based and individual work and it’s actually quite challenging for me because I tend to come up with ideas quickly and then want to pursue and refine them. This puts me at odds with the majority of people that I work with who are thinking the opposite way. That’s where relationships, friendships and trust help the organization work. What happens in a lot of organizations is that a battle usually ensues and the organization starts to split between the foreigners and the Japanese and it sometimes ends up terribly. Here though, partly because we are small and partly because we have gotten to know each other so well, we have respect for both ways of doing things. One isn’t better than the other, they’re just different. As a result, we have had to find ways of accommodating each other.”