Lorenzo Pirisino
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Day Nine - Clouds Gathering

Posted on 2006/12/08 01:34:19 (December 2006).

[7th December 2006]

First of all happy birthday to my dad!

Today was a terribly boring day, I had NOTHING AT ALL to do all day and this is terribly bad because it gives me time to think about my present situation.

I am starting seriously to consider whether I made the right decision or not. On the other side I am also getting terribly good insights at the Japanese culture that normally tourists and paper experts don't get when they are here.

During my travels I have always tried to behave and be considered an indigenous. I still have nightmares about my lovely British accent who is going down the drain for example, it was something that at the end of my four years in Blighty made me terribly proud.

In the same way I have tried to be as much Japanese as I could be, and guess what, I am getting the "full Japanese treatment" now, and I don't like it all that much.

In the work environment there are several points that make me think.
First of all there is an almost maniacal connection between a certain member of the staff and the clients. They go to see the clients on daily bases, even twice or three times a day.
This means that inside the work groups you get extra specialists that hold the keys to a certain client, under every point of view.
They hardly discuss numbers and statistics, it's all in their heads...

I find this method extremely narrow minded, as if something happens to the salesman (goes to another company for example), the group looses all the work done in years.
In Europe, as far as I have seen, of course there are people dedicated, but they need to report and discuss with their superiors, which means that if they leave at least something can be salvaged.

Also when deciding what to show to a certain client, or what to do about a certain situation there is a very peculiar behaviour.
It seems that everything has been allotted already. I mean, this supplier can only give me this product, this supplier will give me this other.
So far so good, there are strengths and weaknesses among several companies, but this doesn't mean that we shout not try to show something "different" every now and then, just to give more chances or to get the clients to do something new.

Nope, this concept doesn't stick, better show them what they always did, you cannot make mistakes there!
No wonders why Asian countries copy all our creativity, they really cannot breed a creative process as their society teaches them how NOT to do it.
In practical terms all my choices are always different from theirs, but since I am Mr.Nobody-gaijin this translates in always not going for the things that I try to push forward. As a result, I am thinking: "yes I am the person who makes the choices from Italy and you systematically drop almost all of them, mmmmmmmmmm... What's the fucking point?!".

The point is that I look good, I am really a showman, nothing more nothing less. I can come up with sales points even when selling "turds", all in a limping Japanese.

But still I kind of feel "required" to come at work like they do, do overtime like they do, pretend that the things that we are showing are actually what I wanted to show them.

The way I see it, in this environment no one can really make a stand, personal skills are rendered useless, channeling all strengths in a badly patched up sense of "team" of "unity" (which doesn't quite work because we are humans and we are inclined to defy the establishment and look for better targets), where display of prowess is frown as you was a an Ebola bearer.

The fact is that Western society is based on different fundamentals, you are encouraged to be a star, not a team player. Even this approach is quite wrong, like all extremes, it ends up in a fight for survival where only the selfish and the strongest prevail.
But it's a game that I know better, and at least gives me a chance, while in the present conditions I don't feel I have any.

My judgment is always going to be subject to approval of this or that person, I have little freedom of action and although I see chances that can be exploited, they are going to be shut down either out of jealousy, spite, or simply because that's not the way they think it's right.

On the other side I have to get paid, I have to wait at least one more year before really being able to comment in full and take decisions, but the start is not so promising, and these three weeks are a real burden for me at the moment...

Let's hope that things improve, I am not going to give up so easily!

Comment 1

There is a lot of "insight" in this entry Lox. A fascinating observation on how Japanese business works.

I was just thinking about the "creativity" angle when you yourself mentioned it! It always seemed a cliche to me, how the "occidental" - Western - cultures were the ones who had the great ideas, the leaps of invention, but the East who were able to take these ideas and run with them...

So perhaps it is true.

What I can't yet see is how this Far Eastern attitude fits in with such a subjective area as "fashion". Does this still apply for their own, homeland fashions, or just when they are manufacturing for the rest of the world?

Posted by Nigel at 2006/12/08 07:17:56.

Comment 2

Nigel: It is only bound to the Asian markets, if not just the Japanese one. When you are in Rome do as the Roman do, it's perfectly true here. The problem is that every brand in the end produces MORE OR LESS, the same things. In Italy, and in Europe, generally, fashion is about being different, maybe appear a lot different from the others. Here it seems that you have to comply to certain rules, and everyone more or less dresses in the same way. BORING! Of course there are brands that not comply with this scheme (and therefore confirm it), but they are small and generally not interesting for business... Oh well, your summary of Europe thinks of it, Asia uses it is actually quite fitting!

Posted by Lox at 2006/12/08 10:10:23.

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