I have a scholar friend who travels around the world, studies and analyzes ‘innovation’ and its patterns in many countries of the world. He knows Japan well through his study and work over 30 years and is a friend of Japan.
We met in Davos and he sent me an email with ’List of 10 Questions’ on ‘Japanese behavior patters’. He thinks I am a ‘strange Japanese’. I feel honored by his comment.
The list is shown below and I wonder what would be your thoughts and answers?
QUESTIONS / ISSUES
(1) “Why is it that most Japanese go to conferences and always stay and sit together in a corner and talk to each other, without including any foreigner into their conversation?
… there are no other country citizens behaving that way !!!
(2) “Why is it that the Japanese participants never dare to raise a question or give some comments in a workshop or at the Q&A session in a conference”?
… other Asians from China, Singapore, Taiwan, India, etc. are very different in this regard !!!
(3) “Why is it that many of my Japanese colleagues and friends have to take a vacation when participating in a conference or think-tank overseas”?
… the Western people consider this to be part of the business activities !!!
(4) “Why is it that most Japanese go to international conferences without a specific objective and measurable results in mind”?
… Most other country participants have very clear targets to meet a certain number of suppliers, customers, etc., in order to end up with specific new business proposals !!!
(5) “Why do most Japanese companies not like to see their employees writing and publishing industry articles or even books with other colleagues in their professional domain, even if they do it in their spare time over the weekend and the evenings”?
… in the Western world we consider this to benefit the company and the employee, as it demonstrates domain expertise vis-a-vis potential customers and peers in the industry !!!
(6) “Why do Japanese speakers in international events and conferences only present or ask in Japanese (there are always a few exceptions to the rule)”?
… it is common practice the government officials may speak their own language at an event in their own country, but most of the time, Japanese also do so in international conferences overseas !!!
(7) “Why do all the conference participants or students keep their hands down and lower their heads when the professor or speaker asks a question that everybody is able to answer”?
… there are always a number of Europeans who have good answers or questions, while many Americans will raise their hands even before the question ends, whether or not they have a full or only a partial answer !!!
(8) “Why is it that most Japanese executives only see the differences, risks and threats but never look at the similarities or opportunities?”
… it always leaves a strong sense of pessimism and no optimism, hence, how can you advance personally or as a nation with such an attitude !!!
(9) “Why is it that most Japanese people and senior executives are scared to call for serious changes in their organizations or even in the nation”?
… without constant changes, you cannot adapt to the ever rapidly changing world around us, hence, you are left behind !!!
(10) “Why is it that Japan and its citizens will only be able to change or are willing to change when the country will either hit the wall, or will experience a total market crash, or is about to disintegrate completely”?
… a common answer by some of the highest ranked corporate officers, association or some government leaders, whom I spoke to during the “Japan Night” in Davos !!!