Lorenzo Pirisino
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On work in Japan

Posted on 2006/12/15 00:59:39 (December 2006).

[14th December 2006]

There are too many people working in Japan. It's a conclusion that I had to come out with in the end.

I think that from my early observations there is a good 20% of the actual workforce that is completely and utterly not needed.

Mostly because they don't do any important job at all, just a lot of feet shuffling and paper passing, and a lot of phone calling of course!

The companies are full of middle-low-high-middle managers, and in response the suppliers adjust their structure in order to have a similar amount of people to interface with these figures.

So you have the "Manager of Production of Div.5 of ABC client", who follows a very small part of the business of ABC.
He doesn't have any power to take decisions, cannot work independently, and he is strictly linked to the decisions that are taken for him by his superior.

In the last three weeks I have met at least 30 people from our company, for each single one of them I have difficulties in remembering what the hell they are working on.
There are people who supervise the sales of fabrics to a certain division, but then there are also the direct salesman, and assistants and strange figures like me who are there just to add cannon fodder to the sales part.

The same is applied to production, outsourcing, shipping and so on.

As I said in a previous post, here a certain job is so linked to the client that they never produce any numbers to read how a company is doing, because all the numbers are in the head of the people who do a certain job.

They put in a lot of hours, but the efficiency is very low, having to loop infinitely in relationship related interlinks.

Yesterday I went to see a client who is a friend of mine. Nice guy, very hard to work with. My company is starting to work with them a little, when the person in charge of the project knew that I was his friend he has done everything he could so that we could meet and I could work for them as well.
I met him, talked about business, got some research to do for him, BUT, as it happens, even if I find something I will have to report to the guy in charge of the project who will then pass it to head of sales, who will then pass it to the sales people, who will then give it to the designer.
Am I the only one thinking that it's a bit awkward?

Oh well, we say in Italy "Paese che vai, gente che trovi" (Could be translated loosely as "You meet weird people in weird countries"), but I thought that a brief account could have been interesting for the people reading my pages...

Comment 1

It *is* interesting Lox. But it sounds very scarily like the Uk's Civil Service!!!! And the trouble with this sort of set-up is that certain characters start to build themselves little "empires". These are the people (well, within my own employer at any rate) that I can't get on with...

Posted by Nigel at 2006/12/15 07:06:07.

Comment 2

Nigel: Empire building is pretty common in Japan, also helped by the overly obsequious ways in dealing with other people. This is the real key to success here, find the route that gets you MORE EFFICIENTLY to the final target, because only that target will be in the position to take decisions, all the rest have some saying, but in the end they take no responsibilities...

Posted by Lox at 2006/12/15 07:14:15.

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