Tokio

Lifetime experience
It’s quite rare that we get to experience the so called ‘lifetime ones’. And, it is even rare that they actually turn out to be one. I was said that I would be a part of Refine’s annual study group. And, where to? it turned out to be Japan. Rightly so. Well, for a team which prophesizes Lean, this was more of a pilgrimage. Rightly put? Right? This is an account of surreal things we experienced in the beautiful country. Well, it’s the society and unreasonably hospitable people that add most of the beauty to the country. I value your time, my reader. So, I’ll keep my temptations to deviate and get straight to what matters.

It was a packed schedule. Accompanied by long flights and jet lags, the essence of comfort was quite far from existence. We not only had to do the workshops, we also had to explore the country and food there. Right? A few hours after landing, we had a session planned right away. With sleep starved eyes, we set afoot our first session and that was quite the normal stuff. Welcoming, greeting, a brief about Japan and a dinner. After a decent meal and few drinks down, we satiated out eyes with some rest. We had two long days in the offing.

Now, when a man tells you that he is about to transform your team in a country that is a neutral venue, your share of doubts is justified. But, little did we know that what we would see and experience over the next two days would leave us flabbergasted. All we saw was how the Japanese went about their work life. Simple as that. But, when we saw them work, we understood that they never work. All they do is etch their focus into creating world-class products.

Refine Team

The sloppiness mirror
If you considered yourself organized at work and life, please visit a Japanese work place and you will realize how sloppy you actually are. The stark contrast appears and slaps you on the face. There is absolutely no complex automation systems that help them get there instead, they are the most simple yet effective solutions that help them get there! For a digi geek like me, it was too hard to digest the fact that a firm which manufactured circuit boards, they were using too modest methods to organize their work. And, the best part is Kaizen: continuous improvement technique which leaves every single employee striving to improve their processes. No matter how small the increment is, just make sure you keep doing them regularly. The aggregated result is what Japan today is. A pioneer striving towards excellence.

The magical Japanese traits

Punctuality
Not undermining the German punctuality, but, the Japanese have a special tendency towards being on time. The amount of remorse when failing to do so is commendable.

Courteousness
If there is anything called courteousness, the Japanese society has managed the pinnacle of it. It reflected in every single layer of being.

Modesty
Let’s face it. Considering the situation, they were in, they have come a long way. In spite of having achieved so much they are so grounded people that the arrogance of having achieved so much does not show up. In no layer of their being.

Respect : Resources & Humans
The absence of extravaganza is evident in the Japanese society. But what is also evident is the respect they have. Be it for the humans or for the resources around. They consume everything so thoughtfully as if wasting something were a sin. It is! Isn’t it? And they have phenomenal amount of respect for the humans. In the companies that I visited, what I observed was that they first saw the human in a worker and then the hierarchy.

This tour with my awesome team truly transformed us as we observed these artists working on their masterpieces. And carving everything they did to perfection.

We returned with a sense of being truly transformed and with some nervousness of how we keep the motivation breathing. We have an uphill task of now bettering our workspace and turning our office space into our home and our team into our family. Here’s to all good things to come.