Insight in Japanese
Read time: 6 minutes
Insight in Japanese business
In my years as go-between for our Japanese customers I traveled Finland and the Baltics a lot. Then I had some busy years in Russia and the Ukraine, followed by our focus on Denmark and Sweden. All of this to support the expansion of our Japanese clients. Client relationship management also took me to other locations in Europe, to visit manufacturing plants, storage and other logistic places related to the overall operations. My years were filled with projects, improvements, high volume losses and launches of new schemes. Loss prevention and training were high on the agenda. No year was ever boring! All the traveling enabled me to meet wonderful people and facing different circumstances taught me a lot! And I believe that the Japanese clients, their management style and culture gave me valuable direction.
100th anniversary of diplomatic relations
This year, Japan and Finland celebrate the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations. It is a significant and historical milestone for our leaders and diplomats. But most importantly: a celebration of the friendly relations between the Japanese and Finnish people. If you would like to know more about our mutual achievements, I can recommend the official website of Japanese and Finnish relations. It also shows how two geographically and culturally distant countries are actually very much alike! In fact, from my personal experience I can truly say that the Finnish and Japanese cultures match extremely well.
Focus on solutions, continuous improvement and relationships
In contribution to the celebrations, I would like to share my experience with these three elements of the Japanese business culture.
In the long run, better results can be achieved when focusing on both identifying problems and fixing them. This requires a no-blame culture. Even in situations when things go wrong, the attitude remains calm and discussions were solution-oriented. In insurance, the liability aspect always looms and is, of course, important. Still, things do not improve if the main goal is to apportion blame, pointing out a liable party. Finding scapegoats does not solve problems and the Japanese understand this only too well.
Fixing problems will help avoid them in the future. This also improves performance. But it does not mean that you stop when one goal has been reached! Continuous improvement strives for excellence and can be applied widely. Continuous learning, resulting in small steps and small improvements can have remarkable results. An integral part of continuous improvement is quantifying, even when it seems impossible to do so. Details matter. After a chain of events caused by extreme weather conditions, there was the need to predict the extent of and cost related to the damage caused, which seemed unrealistic to do at that stage. Against the odds, thorough discussions into every detail resulted in a well-founded figure. Suffice to say that mitigating measures at a very early stage and looking into ways to minimise the impact of future events is continuously on everyone’s mind.
The third feature of Japanese business is long lasting personal relationships. As claims adjusters and survey agents, we are the local eyes and ears of our foreign clients. While it goes without saying that we always appoint dedicated specialists suited to each client, it is particularly important to Japanese clients to know everyone involved personally. This is why it is vital that we communicate any staff changes. This level of interest from our clients means that we actually feel part of their team. Mutual trust also means that you will always go the extra mile to live up to your client’s expectations.
I am extremely pleased that our people are entrusted with the work from Japanese clients. Long-lasting relationships are beneficial to both sides and result in many successful projects!
I think the Japanese and Finnish cultures match extremely well.