Managing for Creativity in Japan Talking with Foreign Executives in Japan

Stuck in the Office

“When people are working in an office in this country they are probably about a third as productive as workers in a Western country, I think. That is a number I have run by a few people and there seems to be a consensus about this. People take three times as long to do things so they’re in the office longer. Everyone always looks like they are doing something but when you ask if they have started that task you gave them a day ago, the answer is no. That’s just the way it is, people have a slower, more deliberate working style where as I am more like “just get it out there”…… I know people who work in Japanese companies who want to leave the office at five but they won’t because nobody else does and if they do people will notice it, or they won’t take a holiday because everybody will know that they took a holiday. Nobody is telling them to do these things though.

How can you reconcile that very strict unwritten code of conduct and those expectations with creativity?”

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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