From the Archives of a Common Sensei – Volume 8: The Dynamics of Japanese Leadership

In prior volumes of From the Archives of a Common Sensei, volumes 1 through 7 we discussed various methods to better understand and to analyze our various organizations. Although some of the terminology included may reference manufacturing, healthcare or another sector, the analysis concepts are essentially the same, or at least similar. In digging through my “archives” I came across a paper I wrote thirty-three years ago (1988), early into my relationship with Japanese business and the emergence of early Toyota and Toyoda manufacturing growth in the United States. I researched and wrote a paper to better understand the “Dynamics of Japanese Management Techniques”, and the differences when compared to management practices in Western companies (at least at that time). I was surprised by the interest shown by several from the Japanese business community at the time. The comment was even made that I had developed a better understanding of the differences than they had understood. Many of the principles and attributes of Japanese Companies are still valid and present in Japanese companies today. Many Western companies have also adopted the best of the Japanese companies, however, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Before someone points out that some changes have taken place in Japanese companies as they move toward working with Western business, I understand that! I will also state that we have had more to gain by learning the best practices from the Toyota businesses than they have had by learning Western business practices.

Below I have included Appendix A (Culture and Management) and Appendix B (Japanese Manager vs American Manager) of the above paper for easy review and emphasis. I have found these two documents to be on target and enlightening. Think of the results if the best of both East and West values and practices were incorporated into your organization? I have been fortunate that several of the organizations I have worked with (or mentored), in the US and in several countries in Europe, have made the leap to incorporate the best of East and West management practices leading to inclusiveness and high performing teams that produce highly effective and value creating results for customers and investors.

Both lists deserve recognition be given to their authors: Appendix A – Milton Feldman in 1972; Appendix B – Yasuko Hirata in 1975.

Max Allway

For More Information or help with your transformation effort, contact us at

Utilizing Strategic Innovation to Redefine your Normal

A global health crisis and increasing levels of civil unrest are changing the way that we approach our daily lives, from how and where we work, to our social interactions and how we consume information and entertainment.

Organizations who continue doing business in the same way they always have are going to be left behind in a world where innovation is now being measured in days to market as opposed to years. Chances are that your organization has the people it needs to solve problems but, do you have the tools to pull those solutions out of them?

As you continue to add more technologies, trying to resolve issues, streamline processes, and create efficiencies, how do you know that you will get the results that you are expecting?

For decades organizations have had varying results when trying to emulate the Toyota Production System (TPS). The consistent underlying theme in explaining the levels of variation is that the success of TPS has as much to do with the synchronization of employees and management as it does with the tools and the processes. (Marksberry, 2013)*.

The days of simply taking the next great technology innovation, inserting it into your organization, and sitting back to realize the results are gone. Just because something is innovative, imaginative or disruptive does not necessarily mean that it is evolutionary. If you want to separate yourself from your competition or redefine world-class, your next transformation must qualify as an “I.D.E.A.” (Innovative, Disruptive, Evolutionary, and Atypical), and therefore, it must move your organization to a new level in the value it provides internally, externally, and peripherally.

Prior to any new implementation, transformation, or re-organization, it is paramount that you look at your company, agency, team, etc. as a system made up of management, employees, technology, processes, customers, and community. This requires a new way of thinking to define requirements while your assessing and aligning your organizations strengths and addressing weaknesses as part of your Strategic Innovation process rather than after a decision has already been made.

Are you ready to break out of the current cycle of incremental progress and challenge the status Quo?

Let me know at

Works Cited
Marksberry, P. (2013). The Modern Theory of the Toyota Production System. Boca Raton, London, New York: CRC Press.