With the third largest economy in the world and fourth largest purchasing power parity, Japan is certainly an economic force to reckon with. The country is internationally recognized as a globally important supplier, a high-ticket customer, and an aggressive business competitor. Japan is a market leader in many industries such as electronics, cameras, machinery, automotive, shipbuilding, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and steel. They make up about 15% of the world economy and dominates about 30% of the high-technology sectors. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to upgrade the way that you do your business, there is much to learn from Japan when it comes to business strategies.
Quality and Innovation
The commitment to innovation and producing high-quality products is undoubtedly one of Japan’s greatest strengths. Products made in Japan can speak for themselves even with little marketing as users’ word of mouth would fuel sales thanks to the products’ outstanding quality. In the recent years, we’ve seen a shift in the Japanese strategy of constant expansion to one of specialization and improved focus. By limiting their focus to one product line or service, Japanese companies are able to pursue excellence and gain a competitive advantage against global competitors.
People-centric management is deeply embedded in the Japanese culture. Although Japan has a reputation for longer work hours, most employees would remain loyal to their companies because of job security and great benefits. Lifetime employment is common in Japan with workers staying with one company from graduation to retirement. Insurance benefits can include housing subsidies, medical coverage, good recreational facilities, bonuses, and pensions. An early retirement age of 55 is observed but the elderly are free to work under stable business conditions as long as they are able.
Participative management is strongly practiced in most Japanese industries. Making decisions by consensus and taking into account the insights of rank and file employees give companies a broader perspective and more holistic approach to solve problems. This also pacifies different factions in the company so they can arrive at an agreeable decision. Job rotation is common in Japan and this practice grants many workers with a greater understanding and appreciation of their company. Many believe that this practice is also attributed to the Japanese’ deep regard and loyalty to their work.
The capacity of Japanese businessman and employees to welcome change is strength worthy of emulation. While the West displays a strong resistance to change, Japanese corporations can display a sharp 180-degree turn with their business decisions. This might be owed to the fact that the Japanese value continuous lifetime education and training. What works stays and what doesn’t need to change. This ensures the relevance and success of their business strategies in the face of an ever changing market.
While not all of these business strategies may be suitable for your business, some of these techniques may be worth trying. These Japanese business strategies are not the answer to everything but this approach has kept Japan as one of the top performing economies in the world.