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360 DEGREES

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 20, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– The benefit of looking at the company from a bird’s eye view.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

My company has been doing business in Japan since the mid-1970’s. We have enjoyed the experience and have marveled at how Japanese businessmen act and think. For example, it is very important for the Japanese to reach a group consensus on major decisions (an inherent part of the concept of Theory Z). By doing so, they solicit the input from all of the workers before making a decision (a bottom-up type of approach). As an American, I found this to be radically different than the western world’s top-down micromanagement approach. The Japanese approach may make for a longer sales cycle, but it simplifies implementation (after all, everyone has agreed to the decision).

As the Japanese work through a problem they tend to look at it from every angle or as they refer to it as thinking in “360 degrees.” This is a much wider perspective than what you typically find in western companies. Whereas the Japanese tend to think in terms of 360 Degrees, Americans tend to suffer from tunnel-vision, meaning they become overly concerned with a single piece of the puzzle. Maybe this is because the western world is somewhat territorial in nature. We become so obsessed with our piece of the pie we tend to overlook the entire dish.

I think a lot of this has to do with our conditioning. Whereas the Japanese are taught at an early age the importance of teamwork and cooperation, Americans are taught to be individualistic and competitive. No wonder Japanese think of the bigger picture while Americans tend to build and fight over their little fifedoms.

Over the years I have learned that larger and more complex projects require teamwork, communications and cooperation. Maybe it is because of our natural aversion to cooperate, and not to think in terms of 360 degrees, that we have difficulty conquering anything of substance in this country anymore. This may be a major factor why we no longer think big and are content doing small things.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  A SIMPLER TIME – Were the good old days really better?

LAST TIME:  THE PROBLEM WITH SHEEPLE – The amalgamation of “sheep” and “people” (and our society).

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6 Responses to “360 DEGREES”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A J.D. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “Agree that 360 is very important with complex problems. It is hampered by our culture of immediate gratification however.”

    Like

  2. janismith said

    Good points! This reminded me of an incident that happened when my husband worked at GM. The new Fiero had just gone into production and one of the new cars had been brought to the plant, fresh off the line, for all workers to see and comment. We know now that Fiero had some serious problems, like engine fires, but on that day, it was touted as the latest automotive marvel. Workers milled around, checking out the car from stem to stern. Finally, one of the mechanics asked “Will the full sized tire fit into the car after the small temporary spare is put on?” A quick check showed his concern to be valid. The full sized tire would not fit into the car, either in the trunk space or inside. Fiero drivers would need to strap the big tire onto the roof in order to transport it for repair. Not cool.

    It strikes me that the Japanese system might have served them well in that instance. Had they consulted the mechanics and assembly workers during the design process, the design could have been modified to fit the tire in the trunk. There are always a lot of small pieces involved in making up a big picture. While it may not be good to obsess over the small pieces, paying closer attention to their part in the big picture might be wise.

    Happy weekend! Jan

    Like

    • Tim Bryce said

      Wow, there’s a car I haven’t heard about in quite some time. Not surprised by your comments. That was also around the time GM was trying out their 4-6-8 engine which didn’t really get off the ground.
      Regards,
      Tim

      Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A T.M. of Cleveland, Ohio wrote…

    “……we no longer think big and are content doing small things.”

    Right On! I got my initial analysis “teeth sharped” doing Aerospace company enterprise analysis projects back in the 80’s. Really big projects!

    In reviewing BA site LinkedIn postings and current popular BA certification materials, I find it astounding that it appears that almost nobody – NOBODY – thinks in terms of the paramount issues of larger scale projects (for example, interface analysis and decomposition).

    It is like large scope anything is not done anymore. I thought the trends in business systems projects was the opposite.

    It truly appears that everyone is just working on smallish projects. How can this be?”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A B.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “Good one. We studied the Japanese auto process at Naval Postgrad School in the late 70’s. One other outcome of their process is that they use COMMON parts (like bolt and nut sizes) throughout the car instead of a different size, thread, and length like some American manufacturers do – which, in the end, saves on inventory and replacement part costs.

    Think about it this way. When JFK challenged us to go to the moon in 10 years, we worked TOGETHER as a team to achieve that goal…in his memory, if for no other reason.

    But, today, we haven’t got a VISION let alone a strategy for just about anything. Not for space exploration, not for politics (international affairs OR domestic) or even economics. That’s because our current crop of “leaders” have NO VISION themselves – either individually or collectively, and thus can’t imbue us (the people) with enthusiasm for the end goal (whatever it might be). Oh, there are SOME out there with enthusiasm (HOPE, CHANGE, etc), but they are idealistic … they are like the bumper sticker that says “War is not the answer” – but they haven’t a clue what the question was, or even if they think they know what the question was, they have no idea what the answer really is.”

    Like

  5. […] 360 DEGREES […]

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