How Japanese companies can create a culture of innovation

A big issue across the board is a lack of metrics that unveil the reality of present day best practices. Take for example newspapers, we can SAY Yomiuri Shimbun has 10 million subscribers but how many people actually read the piece of earned media a client gains.

This lack of metrics isn’t only limited to marketing. It applies broadly too in cases like where, with no other data point to measure, employers evaluate workers on the number of hours of “ass-in-chair.” Even if employee A outperforms B by 4x, he or she is still lazy if they leave on time.

Furthermore, the culture of “grin and bear it” means that the go-to solution is to bang your head against the wall until it cracks. This gets in the way of innovation all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen middle level managers literally cutting newspaper clippings out of the paper and GLUING them to a report!

Surely there’s a better way of doing this but the culture gets in the way. Japan needs to take a hard look at real numbers and kill some sacred cows if it doesn’t want to decline to nothingness in. Currently the only thing keeping it competitive is the language but technology is quickly eroding that last breakwater.