UK manufacturer exporting to Japan fs design and fs apps Clare Head Commercial Director
Introduction to fs design and fs apps fs apps and fs design are two design companies that specialise in innovation. We have designed all manner of products from vehicle interiors to baby bottles. One market in which we have enjoyed export growth is Japan. This came about following 10 years employment with Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation in the UK; this gave us a unique insight into Japanese working practices and business culture. Our success in Japan has been with both our design and Smartphone products. Our apps are on sale in Japan and there are 1,000’s of vehicles in Japan fitted with parts designed and developed using our innovative rapid production techniques. Since its creation, fs design has also been contracted to other Japanese companies to help negotiate and source business with European suppliers. We have taken the liberty of including images of some of our designs to illustrate the diversity we offer
Hannover Motorshow launch of our apps (The Design of this vehicle is lead by Japan)
Automotive software Supplier - Good Quality - Excellent Reliability - Medium-high cost - Low innovation Consumer Electronics Software - Average Quality - Average Reliability - Low to medium cost - High innovation Our position in the world of Smartphone software fs app’s Good Quality Reliable Low Cost High Innovation
iPod Nano Docking Unit – 25 th Anniversary Micra
Our observations about working alongside Japanese customers: Japan is not the same as other Asian countries, for a variety of historical and cultural reasons, you need to see Japan as truly unique market. Success in other Eastern markets does not guarantee success in Japan. Japan was closed to outsiders a “locked country” or Sakoku between the years of 1633 and 1853. This has resulted in a culture that is unique in the world. You need an understanding and appreciation of the culture, not only to gain recognition but also to avoid misunderstanding and causing offence. Equally beware not to be offended by customs and practices that are considered routine. For example, a Japanese person will never say “no” When they say “yes” it often means they are just confirming they understand you, it does not mean they have agreed to anything.
Our observations about working alongside Japanese customers Use local partners or local assistance to represent you. Turning up in Japan and expecting to do deals is both unwise and frustrating. Relationships and mutual trust are paramount to doing business in Japan. It is very hard to break in to the Japanese market. Japan is totally customer lead and the only way to deliver the true level of service and expectation that is demanded will be to engage local support. Quality, process excellence and innovation are all deeply admired in Japan. Our success with Nissan is based upon rapid tooling and unique manufacturing processes. We have delivered complete vehicle systems in months not years without compromising the quality. This has been well recognised and commented on by Nissan senior management.
Our observations about working alongside Japanese customers: Don't always rely on the locals who speak good English. Get a great translator instead. Local Japanese working for your customer will be totally loyal to their employer and you will only get the corporate line. Having your own interpreter will give you a better understanding of the tone and feel of the meeting. Japan is an extremely proud country and has experienced massive growth based mostly on exporting; this is difficult for Japan to maintain Moving work out of Japan should always be treated with sensitivity and promoted as being for the greater good of the company. If there is a local source in Japan for your product it will always be the preferred source. Japan is very, very risk averse and it will always be easier for them to deal with a Japanese supplier.
Our observations of working alongside Japanese customers: Frugality and lack of waste/excess is admired in Japan. Talking about your first class flight over and suite at the Four Seasons is unwise. The Japanese strive to eliminate all waste from any business process. One of my Japanese friends once told me that there is even a target for how many sheets of paper an individual can print in a day! If any individual exceeds the allocation he or she has to explain and report to their manager why and put a counter-measure in place. It’s this obsession with order, process and continual improvement that drives Japanese companies. Demonstrate you have the same tenacity to be efficient and eliminate waste and it will be highly valued and respected.
Our observations of working alongside Japanese customers: Monozukuri – the difference between UK and Japanese manufacturing??? What does Monozukuri mean? (There isn't really an English word equivalent). It might be described as a combination of technology and operations that include development, production and procurement. The Japanese know how to integrate all the important functions to manufacture products efficiently. It’s extremely unlikely that any western company can compete from a manufacturing and production capability point of view. In the West, we do not tend to understand the inter-relationship between the traditional functions. Purchase is Separate to Development surely?! The reality is they are linked and the Japanese really understand how this works to deliver reliable products. Don’t try to compete on this level; be willing to learn and focus your pitch on the uniqueness or innovativeness of your product or service.
Why don't the west have an equivalent for Monozukuri? Possibly because we don't have the tradition for thinking in terms of overall business process. The management metrics we use tend to focus mostly on financial data in conceptual form (the profit and loss account shows monies spent during one year on a single sheet of paper!) Therefore there is no consideration given to the actual relationships between the different functions of a business that contribute to any annual financial record. You cannot really evaluate a function or department within an organisation just by reference to the annual accounting data. Perhaps we need to learn something from the Japanese?
Why don't the west have an equivalent for Monozukuri? Perhaps it is because our management measurement metrics are based on conceptual financial records (such as how much money was gathered and spent in one year - Profit and Loss account) And this doesn't consider the actual communication, understanding, efficiency between different functions of the business? Whereas the Japanese think in terms of process and efficiency to a much greater extent. Profit and Loss Style metric We got paid: XXXX We spent: XXXX Which left us with: XXXX This style of metric can only ever show the result of inefficiency and internal misunderstanding, not the causes.