Hierarchies are ingrained in the western way of thinking. Dating back to ancient civilizations, entire countries were ruled by all-knowing monarchs, with different levels of leadership falling beneath them. Whatever these people in power said was the truth became law.
Traditional business structures aren’t much different. Many Western entrepreneurs and business owners take pride in being leaders and experts – people who have unparalleled experience in specific degrees and fields. They use social media, speak at events, and hold meetings to discuss what they believe is the best way of accomplishing specific tasks.
For the most part, this approach to doing business has been followed for years, with upper management (consisting of experts and leaders) deciding how things should be run. However, the recent economic recession has made many companies realize that their current approach may not necessarily be the best one. As a result, they are now embracing humility and seeking out alternative ways of achieving growth and prosperity.
Lean tours in Japan
For many businesses, Lean and Kaizen represent the way of the future. These practices and mindsets encourage businesses to reduce waste while maintaining efficiency and productivity – a win-win situation for many businesses struggling to execute growth and expansion on a limited budget. For precisely this reason, a number of organizations are sending their leaders and experts to Japan to learn from the originators of Kaizen.
As businesses embark on these Lean tours, it’s pivotal that their experts and leaders bring their sense of humility with them. They will be in a foreign culture that does many things differently – and that extends beyond simple business operations. Japan is radically different compared to many Western countries and even its neighbors in Asia. Executives need to keep an open mind.
With this approach, business leaders and experts will be better able to embrace all the knowledge that Japanese companies can offer them in terms of integrating Kaizen. Learning new things is always a humbling experience, but executives shouldn’t be afraid or resistant to the process. Japanese Kaizen experts have been practicing these mindsets and processes for decades now and may be able to teach company owners some valuable lessons that can then be applied to businesses at home.
Obviously, business leaders and experts know what’s best for their own companies, but taking a Lean tour to Japan can provide an alternate viewpoint that may help organizations identify new solutions which could be used to improve operations and foster growth.
Why should you take a Lean trip to Japan?
If business owners are willing to learn, a Lean trip to Japan can be an enriching educational experience. Toyota, the originator of Kaizen and Lean manufacturing, has shown precisely how profitable these practices and concepts can be when utilized in a meaningful way. In 2004, the auto manufacturer achieved higher profits than the total profits of the top three U.S. car makers. While profits have slipped on the back of the recession, Toyota still remains a leader industry, especially when compared to the U.S. auto market.
Toyota is only one company that has mastered the art of Kaizen. By sending some of your top business leaders and experts to Japan, they can learn how a number of organizations use Lean to achieve similar results. By actually interacting with the Lean leaders at these companies, businesses can learn how to integrate Kaizen in a meaningful way – the experience goes beyond simply reading about Kaizen in books and on the web, and provides much more insight.