Back in 2005, I had the chance to work for a few years with two of the largest Japanese corporations (Japan Gas Company and Chiyoda). It was a unique working experience, one that I would definitely be proud to share with you.
On one of the projects, JGC were our client / owner representative for one of the largest Gas to Liquid Projects in Qatar called: Pearl GTL Project. Frankly speaking, this was the most outstanding management experience I’ve ever had and I learned a lot from it. The project was worth more than $1 Billion US, very complex and running on tight schedule.
Over the years, I’ve dealt with many large international companies from different countries. They were all very professional but dealing with the Japanese took my experience to a totally different level:
1- Team Work: Although they were the client, they worked with us hand in hand as one cohesive team which resulted in significant positive added value to the project. We never felt they were our client.
2- Openness and Honesty: They built a level of comfort and confidence among everyone which resulted in a culture of openness, honesty and trust. Those are key success factors on any project.
3- Efficiency: They were always very efficient, to the point, hard working, very loyal to their company, committed to their work.
4- Attitude: They had an outstanding positive attitude and were very diplomatic to the extent that if they told someone “Go to Hell”, they might look forward for this trip.
5- Precision and Accuracy: Their drawings had minimal discrepancies which obviously minimized any re-work, change orders and variations.
6- Organizational Chart: They always respected the level of authority and reporting channels within their organization and ours. I’ve never seen them even for once, by passing anyone.
7- Punctuality: Always punctual, from higher management officials down to the inspectors. They used to be the first to report to work every morning because they believe that you have to lead by example.
8- Humble and Smart: They were very smart, highly educated and very humble – I’ve learned a lot from them because when you ask them about a certain thing, they do not leave you before they make sure you fully understood.
9- Meetings: Their meetings were always to the point, that’s why during most of our meetings with them, we used to end up with fruitful results in a very short time. They all come prepared (I’ve seen other companies who would come to the meetings with each attendee having his own agenda and the meeting could take forever) and they all spoke as one team, regardless whose idea was it.
10- Sense of Ownership: If anything went wrong on the job even if it wasn’t their fault, they would work with us immediately on finding a solution because they do have sense of ownership, not a blaming attitude.
11- No Arguments: They do not argue. This is a strength because they do concentrate on being productive rather than just being busy.
I have high respect for the Japanese culture, their management style and for them as individuals.
Always Remember: “Unity is Strength and when there is Teamwork and Collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved” – Mattie J.T. Stepanek