Cultural Work Ethics (Japan vs. America)

Have you guys heard of the news blog RocketNews24?  It mainly focuses on Asian news, and I particularly take interest in their Japanese posts.  Anyways a few hours ago they posted this on the differences of Japanese and American workers, and I just wanted to briefly express my thoughts.

If you didn’t read the post or watch the video in the post yet, head on over there before continuing!

Alright, welcome back!  First of all, what do you guys think?  Accurate?  Exaggerated?  No comment?  Well, I think there’s some truth in there, but the American act was quite exaggerated.

Reputation
Japanese workers are known to be earnest, polite, and hard-workers.  While this is true, that isn’t to say that American workers are not.  America is very large as everyone knows, so we have the worst kinds and the best kinds of workers.  But what doesn’t sit right with me is that this only gives Americans a bad reputation.  During this internet age, many have trouble distinguishing what is true and what is satirical.  The video’s description at least mentions that it isn’t quite true, and it is comical.  But the news post does not mention so and it bothers me as it may leave an indirect lasting effect on their readers.

Exaggeration
Per Steve’s profile (the YouTube video creator), he has experience working in both the American and the Japanese markets and knows how it goes.  But this portrayal of Americans not taking their clients or work seriously is quite exaggerated.  The American dream drives many in the land of the free, and followers know best that their clients and work is very significant to their success.  Now the only question remaining is, “Are Americans as polite as the Japanese?”  This is very simple, no, they are not.  We owe this to cultural differences.

The Japanese worship their clients and are obsessed with providing the best customer service possible.  

Thus, by default we lose in this category; not that anyone is keeping count.

Differences
What Steve’s viewers and RocketNews24’s readers should be informed of is not that American workers do not take take their clients or work seriously, but that American workers can be more casual than the Japanese.

We just do business differently. 

Americans may casually speak to their clients and seem more friendly, but they aren’t rude.  Let’s be real, who would keep a business relationship with rude business partners?  Plus if all American workers pushed off their work until after their lunch break, I don’t think our productivity would be where it is today; the rate is mentioned in RocketNews24’s news source as $60/hour vs. Japan’s $40/hour.  That also brings up another good point: the processes, methods, and systems set up in America is completely different from Japan’s.  Japan spends more time processing their work than America.  You may ponder why, and it’s simply because many Japanese companies and their leaders are reluctant to change.  I mean why fix something that isn’t broken right?  It’s a very common downside to working for a Japanese company.

In the end…
Let’s focus on the big picture!  It’s like how westerners believe the Japanese are obsessed with Anime and Manga.  But in reality, many think they’re just for children and stop watching as they grow up; although most still watch Studio Ghibli’s animations.

I say let’s keep the satire alive, but c’mon be decent enough to state that it isn’t true and stop the misconceptions and misunderstandings.  

It’s already bad enough that Americans are known for not knowing anything about foreign countries, and that the Japanese also have this ignorance due to their lack of cultural diffusion from their past that continues till this day…

So, what do you think?  Do you think we should all be more careful and cautious as to how we present cultural differences so as to avoid misconceptions and hopefully bring the world closer together?  Or maybe it’s a hopeless cause and just let it all be?  

Random – Coffee, Beer, Education, and Creativity

I just had to link these two together, please watch the TED conference and read this blog post before continuing on.

If you didn’t bother watching and reading the other materials, the TED conference basically gets you thinking about our education and how it actually does kill our creativity / how we think, and the blog post simply goes into detail about how beer gives us the opportunity to be more creative unlike coffee; coffee only helps us focus a bit better.

I’m connecting these 2 important pieces of information as follows:

  1. We are born artists
  2. We start being educated in specific areas not involving creative thinking, and usually shot down or discouraged from being creative
  3. As we grow up, our brains are programmed to think certain ways and it becomes a habit to no longer creatively think as we first did as children prior to primary education

The above is simply taken from the TED conference and the blog post supports this.

To expand on #1

Prior to primary education, we are constantly learning about the world, surroundings and environment; due to our limited knowledge of everything and seeing connections between one thing to another, we basically use our imagination to come up with what we think at the time is a logical explanation.  However as we grow up, we are told what is right and wrong, what to think and what not to think, and how to think by our parents, teachers, and simply put, society.  This is why, for example like the dancer mentioned in the TED conference, artists in all shapes and sizes feel left out and different growing up in such a society.  Now you may think of all the arts around us like music, photography, fashion and etc., but to a parent, teacher, and a young kid growing up, none of that really matters; it’s honestly not a priority compared to math, science, and reading.  Sure, some parents and people do encourage the arts more but we’re simply talking on an overall societal aspect.

More on #3

Habits.  All habits are hard to grow out of.  Think of a bad habit you have, do you still have the habit; did it take a lot to get rid of it, or even lessen it?  Yeah, that’s why this is so frustrating; because now as young adults or adults, we have the habit of not thinking creatively and it prevents us from many opportunities.

Takeaways

As mentioned in the TED conference, we need to emphasize the arts to the future generations as they are being educated since creativity advances society forward; just look at Google, they flourish on creativity.  The technology being developed by Google and any other company is the future.  If we had more intelligent and creative people in all industries we can only move forward, and at a much faster pace.