My recently found friend and I were talking intensely about general way we do business. Someone who has such open, unassuming manner always win my respect, and I ended up talking to him about what really bothers me about business relationship in general.
It bothers me a lot when someone treats business relationship as a game. Winning, losing, opportunity to provoke people, beating them. Chance to show who’s better than who. I’ve been re-reading Thomas Petzinger’s Hard Landing. I read that book 4 years ago. I’ve read the book cover to cover only twice before, but I underlined inside of the book quite a bit both times. This is my third read in 4 years, but I am finding the book really informative, very interesting, again.
One thing is not new in the new economy: Customers who are burned will find detours around the suppliers who burn them — especially business customers, who after all, have their own customers to worry about.
I think this is a good line to explain why certain companies are not doing fabulously, and not going to do fabulous in Japan. Especially with foreign capital companies who has done well in their home country through building trust but somehow manages to forget the same basic principle when they are working with Japan.
4 thoughts on “Organic way of doing business”
Interesting note. That quote is so common-sense yet so uncommon in the real world that it boggles the mind.
I don’t quite understand why you single out ‘foreign capital’ firms though. When you say foreign capital, do you mean investment companies HQed outside Japan (such as Carlyle Group, Accel etc) or multinational non-Japanese firms in general?
I think there are several international firms that are doing well in Japan, and conversely, many Japanese firms that are in fact not going well despite their cultural proximity etc.
So the argument of trust can be sliced and diced both ways. I wonder if it is a matter of corporate beliefs rather than national origin..
Thanks for visiting! Happy you commented! But I had better start paying a log more attentions to grammatical and spelling errors if you are reading my entries!!
You are right about both international firms and local Japanese firms are not going well in Japan. I am assuming the people that read this blog will mostly be non-Japanese, and what I want to do is to point out to those people who wants to succeed in Japan some of the pit falls in doing business in Japan. As you say, the basic principals are applicable anywhere.
I was having dinner with a friend in Japan not too long ago, and they told me about a bad situation with the special fabrication of high quality wooden doors and paneling by an American Company for a Japanese Building project.
The contract called for partial payment, on a timed basis, along with delivery of the doors on a particular date needed for the project. The doors were not ready, and the American company made an excuse. This delayed the project in Japan.
Still, they missed their second deadline to deliver the doors. So the Japanese company stopped payment for the work until the doors were delivered.
The American company president called the Japanese architect and screamed at them and used bad language to them, complaining about the withheld money. Finally the Japanese company paid more money, and after another long delay, they finally received the doors.
It was a very bad experience for the Japanese Company and architect who were trying to follow the Japanese government’s encouragement to do business in America.
I felt bad about this, because I recognized that the American comany was trying to take advantage of the Japanese Cultural desire to avoid open conflict. So he was acting like a bully, and not honestly. In America, if someone behaves like that to us, it doesn’t work, usually. We would just angrily tell them to be quiet.
So when I read about what you say that American Companies needing to act both honestly and with cultural sensititivity, I strongly agree. Same is true for Japanese companies operating in the USA. The cost of bad business dealings is too high.
After the bad experience, my Japanese architect friend would never do business with ANY American company. That is too bad. This one rude company helped ruin many business opportunities for other companies as well.
Too often people feel busines is a war. I agree with your approach to make it a cooperation and a healthy community of competing products and services.
Good luck with you work.
Thank you for your visit and your comment!
I have had enough experience with delayed delivery of imported interiors products outside of Japan. As you point out, payment for the goods is another matter that becomes very sensitive and difficult in international business. With all these factors, I am amazed international business goes well at all. My deep respect goes for successful international companies.