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 To my experience at Haneda two decades ago and the diversity, I received several comments. One talked about the experience he himself had which was similar to mine. The other talked about his experience to become aware of the value of diversity. Both of them talked about the reluctance or fear among the Japanese to stand out, not “conform”.

  These comments made me think about the reluctance of expressing own view or opinion found among many Japanese. It also reminded me of the recent trend toward KY (literal translation as “can read the “air” ) and at the same time, the notion that there is ONLY ONE RIGHT way—whether it is the answer to the problem, one right corporate strategy or whatever area we deal with. 

  It seems that KY (if it is perceived as “the way to go with the group”), fear of standing out, expressing own view, and looking for one right answer seem to have the same root cause. If we believe there are many different ways to get to the goal, such as the top of the mountain, for example, we will not be afraid of expressing own view, as it will be, by definition, one of “many” ways to get to the top. If more people do so, nobody stands out and there will be a base for discussion.  It will also allow people to change their view in the process of discussion. If there are so many different ways, KY gets a bit difficult to implement, as the “air” is full of different ideas. 

   I am quite convinced that any person will see the value of diversity, and understand that there are many ways to accomplish the objective, if given the opportunity to encounter differences themselves. Understanding the value of diversity and recognition of many alternative ways to get to the target is so important that we need to take some specific actions to encourage.       

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    • Ben Matsuzaki
    • April 2nd, 2008

    Diversification is good and potentially ends up with better results. However, it is hard to realize, since you have to manage all sorts of differences such as protocol, language, value, and even time zone, etc.

    I’ve made many mistakes while trying to introduce diversity in my organization. Ironically even brightest people tend to resist whatever NEW to him/her. Why was wrong???

    One key factor to achieve diversification is sympathy to others. Although it sounds so simple and boring, with deep understanding and respect to others, he/she would have better chance to influence them.

    I found a good example in Ishikura-san’s comment about Colin Powell. He started his speech in Korea talking about his personal experience there when he was young. “Relevance to the audience” is based on his sympathy to the audience. I don’t want to be too technical but in many cases business leaders forget this step.

    Ben

    • yishikura
    • April 3rd, 2008

    Hi, Ben, this is Yoko Ishikura. Thanks for your comment. Yes, I agree that introducing diversity is quite a challenge.

    Without your own experience of encountering diversity in your life, it tends to stay as a “concept” and not reality. It is one thing to “understand” and “think”, but it is another to “feel/realize yourself” and “practice.” As I often hear, “Do as I Do” is much more powerful as a message than “Do as I say.”

    As Steve Jobs quoted in his Stanford Commencement speech, I think it is quite important to “Stay foolish” no matter how old you are or how much knowledge you have.

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