Managing for Creativity in Japan Talking with Foreign Executives in Japan

Slow Moving (2)

“We have to make sure that we get the creativity we need while still getting things done. And that’s the hard part. That can be very frustrating. How can you say to someone ‘give me you best creative thinking by Thursday at 4 o’clock’? Creativity doesn’t really work that way, it happens when it happens – so that puts a lot of pressure on people. That kind of pressure is a risky thing for a creative agency.

This is characteristic of most places but I find that things in Japan are a little different from when I worked in the U.K. or the U.S. Over there people tend to generate ideas faster and then there is a longer period of eliminating ideas and refining the final thoughts. Here what I have seen in a lot of agencies in Japan including ours is that people are building and building and building but you don’t get the ideas until much much later in the process and the risk in that is that you run out of time to finalize and finesse them. Usually, when you come up with an idea you are 50 or 60 percent of the way to completion so if you can come up with the ideas early in the piece then you will have a long time to finish them off. But if it is a couple of days or hours before the deadline then you find that it becomes a problem.”