What do well established big multi-national companies do? Most of them tries to optimize. And by having many people involved in making sure they are optimizing, they lose momentum and opportunities locally. It isn’t a bad thing. It’s a matter of personality who are attracted to something like this, inclination to like safety.
We visited two global companies that were not concerned with optimization. One was old established brand, but was venturing into new territory. Another was a young company who’s main concern was innovation, fun, uniqueness. They both jumped at the 2003 problem in Tokyo (oversupply of new office buildings), and realized substantial savings in office move, spending that money in creating really great environment for work. The people I was with were from subsidiary of global giant company, where big HAL was watching out for them. They wanted to move when 2003 problem offered them wild opportunity, but they did not get the approval to move. They had lots of specialists within their related companies that specialized in savings, and the HQ had their specialits analyze without local visit. Consequently, they lost out on 3 million dollars savings. Can you imagine making 3 million dollar net profit?
And then my other globally well known company always putting Japan on the back burner, because the HQ has the professionals but they could not spare their time to look into Japan situation at that time. They missed out of 2003 opportunity, for much bigger sum than 3 million dollars.
People who were involved with these missed opportunity cases no longer care much for their companies. They do what they are told to do, biding time to go work for someone else who would value their opinions and their work.
What is the cure for something like this? If we look to the nature for answer, it shows abandon ASAP if growth is the objective. Yet I still search for ways to improve the situation for foreign capital companies in Japan.