Becoming Re-Successful, Memo to the American Business Engine: Think Japanese os Stall
by J Demeron Skouson
Know the thinking behind the powerful product development principles used by Japanese automakers that propelled them to their extraordinary success in the US market place. How do they think? How does it affect what do they do? Why did they become so highly effective? Use these very same principles in your business to remarkably increase your product development efficiency and to improve your bottom line profitability. The key to success is how individual businesspeople think; as you become skilled in "thinking Japanese" you will achieve the same success.
"The US business environment is being reformed by the influence of Japanese business practices (i.e. Note recent trends in the US Auto Industry). Japanese companies using different product development practices are rapidly winning US market share at the expense of US businesses. American business professionals need to change the way they personally think to successfully compete in this Japanese-influenced business environment. Those who learn to use the powerful principles associated with the Japanese thought process outlined in this book will find that they have become empowered to act at an entirely new elevated level of performance. As US businesspeople come to understand how they must individually think and what they must personally do to positively and effectively influence their counterparts in business relationships, they will "become re-successful" in driving their firms to regain market share and return to peak profitability."
This book provides detailed and easy-to-understand explanations of essential Japanese business concepts driving the growth of successful Japanese companies. Beyond the presentation of these strategies, however, the author goes in-depth to help readers understand the philosophical and cultural background and thought processes upon which they are based.
The implementation of even a highly effective system is dependent on the knowledge and attitude of the people using it, and in this respect Becoming Re-Successful goes the extra mile, presenting a breadth and depth of information invaluable in the effective implementation of these proven business practices.
Many Americans don’t realize the dramatic influence their patterns of thinking directly have on their ability to succeed in the global business arena. Americans are generally strong-natured and mentally tough; their revolutionary history has engrained in the hearts and souls of so many a fierce fighting spirit and ‘can do’ attitude that has proved invaluable in war zones, sports arenas, and the business place alike.
But that was yesterday, and the landscape is changing. In sports and war, the same aggressive attitude continues to lead to victory, but business is now in an entirely different state of affairs. A hardened, tough attitude is still required – business is no place for the faint-hearted, but an outside influence has changed the US business environment in such a significant way that much more than sheer will power and ironclad brute force are now required to become successful.
Authors have described in enlightening detail the mechanisms employed by this outside influence as it progressively grinds its way through American industry, eating up market share and laying waste to weakened competitors along its path. Michael N. Kennedy, in his book titled Product Development for the Lean Enterprise published by Oaklea Press, and authors James M. Morgan and Jeffery K. Liker, in The Toyota Product development System published by Productivity Press, very clearly describe the systems and methods used specifically by Toyota Motor Company and other Japanese manufacturing companies. These works describe the product development systems in use at Toyota and show how they are more effective than many of those in use at traditional US companies.
If US firms could somehow adopt the systems and processes laid out in these and other works of literature and use them in concert with their own culturally resilient character, their competitive edge would dramatically increase and far outpace the onslaught of global pressure.
American businesses have not failed to notice that their Japanese competitors have clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of their methods by winning market share in the US and global market places. For example, since 1995, Japanese automaker market share in the US has steadily increased while US automaker market share has declined year after year. In efforts to respond to the situation, US business leaders have spent millions of dollars to implement Six Sigma initiatives, along with some powerful business practices used by their Japanese counterparts (such as Lean Manufacturing). However, the Japanese competition continues to prevail and make greater progress than ever before. Why, after combining the American determination with the use of the very tools the Japanese employ, do US businesses still fail to win back the market?
If one were to dissect the aftermath of companies that have attempted to adopt Japanese business practices, one would soon discover that the overall systems have all the potential to drive organizations to success. However, the implementation of even a remarkable system can only be as effective as the individual knowledge workers who function within it on a daily basis. In this book, a knowledge worker is considered one who primarily uses his or her knowledge skills to carry out their responsibilities, vs. one who performs physical labor. Some examples are Sales Representatives, Program Managers, Engineers, Product Managers, Managers, etc. American and Japanese knowledge workers think differently. Exposing and introducing an American knowledge worker into a Japanese system without training him or her to “think Japanese” results in frustration and tension instead of success.
As mentioned, literature in the industry does a thorough job of describing Japanese systems (particularly the Toyota systems) and how they work in Japanese companies. But there is a lack of materials that teach the American knowledge worker how to individually think and act in order to successfully drive such a system to success at a company in his or her own country. What skills must these professionals develop, what understanding must they obtain, how must they think, what actions must they take to make powerful contributions to the success of their firms now operating within an environment being more and more influenced by Japanese business practices?
This book, Becoming Re-Successful - Memo to the American Business Engine: Think Japanese or Stall, seeks to provide this much-needed information. Using theory and providing examples, this work intends to teach the individual US knowledge worker how to actually change thought processes so that he or she is able to clearly understand expectations. As these knowledge workers understand what they must personally do to make use of Japanese business models and positively interact with Japanese counterparts in business relationships, the individuals comprising the “American Business Engine” will once again power their firms to regain market share and return to peak profitability, to become re-successful.
The book contains two sections. Part I provides background to help the reader understand the “why” behind the “what”. Part II is the “what” – an explanation of how the individual must think in terms of routine business functions in order to become re-successful when competing in a Japanese-influenced environment.
The content is not intended to teach Japanese Culture per se, but rather to teach important principles to American knowledge workers. In order to gain an understanding of those principles, readers should give ample thought to their own circumstances as they mentally digest information. This reflection will begin to provide insight and understanding until at last the “light” turns on and the general principles settle into a clear understanding of how to “think Japanese”. While the examples used in this book are taken mostly from the auto industry, I’m suggested that the underlying principles apply to most American businesses.