Over the years Global Business Culture has done a lot of work on the UK-Japan business corridor – mainly with the subsidiaries of Japanese companies who are located in the UK. This work is mainly with UK employees who are keen to develop a better understanding of the business culture in Japan – which they often interact with on a daily basis.
However, the work we do with Mizuho International is a little different because this brings us into contact with the Japanese expatriates who are working in London and who work alongside British colleagues. We generally run a ‘Working in the UK‘ cultural awareness training programme in the morning for Japanese expatriates followed by a ‘Working with Japan‘ session in the afternoon for the Brits who work in London.
This is always a fascinating process because in the morning we ask the Japanese expatriates to discuss the cultural challenges they face working with British colleagues and in the afternoon the British are asked to discuss the challenges they face working with the Japanese. The feedback is always amazing because the challenges described in the afternoon by the Brits are always the exact mirror image of the issues raised in the morning by the Japanese.
The Japanese will say that the British are not detail-oriented enough and then the Brits will complain that the Japanese are overly obsessed by detail. The Japanese will complain that the British jump to decisions very quickly, based on insuficient information and then change those decisions almost immediately. The Brits will be baffled by how long it takes the Japanese to make a decision and how difficult it is to get them to change a decision once it has been made.
Chalk and cheese comes to mind.