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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Look to Japan, but take heed of their mistakes too

I refer to the letter from M. Ganeshadeva’s letter “Adopt work ethics of the Japanese” (The Star, April 23) and wish to add a very important condition that can affect the success of an organisation.

Having worked for Japanese MNCs for no less than 30 years, I agree that Japanese workers have good work ethics that Malaysians should follow. Their attitude, punctuality, commitment and cooperativeness are definitely virtues worthy of learning.

As for the readiness to accept new knowledge or skills and teamwork, I must offer some differing views. The Japanese after WWII had the hunger to adopt Western technology and built a very strong industrial success overtaking the West, but the same success has caused the downfall of companies that have become too proud of their achievements and therefore isolated themselves from the outside world.

This is especially true for companies with incompetent management which stopped acquiring new knowledge while being carried away by their ambitions to be the biggest or the No. 1 in their field. This very often resulted in management decisions overruling common sense. The Japanese work culture of not questioning the bosses may be workable if the management is capable.

However, in situations when the management is poor, their blind cooperation will only lead to the failure of the organisation. The recent case of Toyota’s quality failure is one such example.

Thus, I hope Malaysian companies, while adopting Japanese work ethics, would also build on their management to ensure that the strength of their leadership will not cause mistakes made by many Japanese companies.


Shah Alam

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