Technology and Values LO11677

Mon, 6 Jan 1997 12:13:53 GMT+2

Replying to LO11585 --

There have been numerous postings regarding this issue, and I am adding to
the stockpile some relevant comments that date back to 1991.

In the journal Quality Progress of January 1991 a (to my mind profound)
letter appeared written by T Brown. He refers to a previous letter in
which the author (Linda Dillon) had stated that "Japan's work ethic is
superior" and that "it is doubtful that any Western company will come
close to approximating the Japanese business environment." Brown has the
following to say:

Her conclusions are accurate if we accept that approximating the Japanese
work culture and business environment is the ONLY way to achieve the
highest level of success. I grew up in Japan as an American and recognize
the vast difference between Western and Japanese cultures.............
Much of the success of Japan's business environment is due to Japan's
business leaders successfully directing culturally established values to
their companies' benefit. To become as successful as the Japanese, we
don't have to adopt their cultural values but instead direct our OWN
values to the benefit of the companies we work for. If we define the
outstanding aspects of the Japanese work ethic to be social obligation and
perserverance, the corollary to the American work ethic might be freedom
and individuality. If we reward employees in ways that promote their own
instilled work ethics we can raise work ethic standards as high as those
of the Japanese.

I was (and still am) impressed by T Brown's logic. He has illustrated
very clearly one of the fundamental laws of systems engineering, namely
that methodologies must be tailored to suit the situation at hand. As
Stafford Beer once pointed out, we should not take the medicine that did
old Mrs Smith so much good, and hopefully apply it to our own particular

Keith Sandrock Systems/Johannesburg Technology (JOHANTEC)
FAX 27-11-339-7997



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