Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Make better decisions faster

Most Americans are taught from an early age that individualism versus interdependence is what makes America great. Well maybe not always.

Here's a study that finds that people from cultures with an ethos of interdependence can make better decisions faster than others; that is, the Asians do better than the Americans.

I was particularly struck by an observation of
how a Texas corporation "aiming to improve productivity, told its employees to look in the mirror and say 'I am beautiful' 100 times before coming to work. In contrast, a Japanese supermarket instructed its employees to begin their day by telling each other 'you are beautiful'."
Most Americans are also taught to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. We just don't live that in our lives very much. That it is in our enlightened self-interest is another reason why we should.

How's that for a Western spin? :-)

1 comment:

James Gibbons said...

My younger brother used to be an executive in a large Japanese company. He observed that while Americans are probably more inventive (because we value individuality), Asians tend to be more intentional, disciplined, and better at team activities. The cultural respect for tradition makes it difficult for Japanese companies to have breakthrough ideas. But their focus makes it possible for them to apply breakthrough ideas in incredibly practical and powerful ways (hybrid technology in Japanese cars).

I tend to see it in terms of the inherent benefits in what a culture values. We do not value discipline, protocol, or tradition. But we do value individual achievement. What you get is a product of what you are.

One last thought. I’m surprised at your example. For a Japanese worker to tell another Japanese work he/she is beautiful, because management said so, would not seem to be productive. It would also not seem to be very Japanese for management to use that tactic. For a worker to be concerned about whether or not he/she was beautiful is quintessentially American.