Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Management Lessons from Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

Posted by Lil' Sue at 5/10/2011 11:48:00 AM
Credit to: Dr. Edwin Varo

The earthquake and the subsequent tsunami in Japan in March have taught us a lot which can be applied to Life, Career, and Management.I took this article from one of our training consultant. I hope you found this interesting as I do..Please be informed that I do not own this article and please credit the original author if you wish to share it in your blog (^_^)!

1. Preparation:
As the old adage goes, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail”. Do you know that despite the magnitude of the earthquake (9.0 on the Richter scale) not many big buildings fell down? The Japanese knew that their country was on a seismic hotspot and over the last many years have built the world’s best and most well-thought out building codes. A robust system that understands the importance of smart design and preventative measures. In the end the only reason why millions of lives have been saved. What is the lesson we learn in management here? Preparation for the future is a pretty thankless job. You never know how important it is until you feel the need. It is like a helmet to a rider on a bike or an ABS to a driver in a car. You want to spend that extra money hoping you NEVER get to use it. So next time whenyou are building risk mitigation in your work and someone comes around questioning the importance – you know what to answer!

2. Reporting
A remarkable feature is that ALL the press coverage you had of the calamity were of the destruction, and how people are coping with it. There was NO, and I repeat NO visual of dead bodies, or interviews with wailing women who had lost their children. It was almost a playback of a similar tragedy in 2001 during the World Trade Center attack in New York. A sight that is glaringly uncommon in most other countries’ media. We are almost surrounded by situation where each small incident is heralded as “Breaking News”, and each channel jostles to interview someone who has lost their loved ones. Japanese news channels did not speculate on the death toll, and all along only quoted the official government data.
The lesson on management is very simple. Focus on what needs to be done, tell what needs to be said, and hear only what is important to be heard. If we practice this in our day to day work life, we would be far better than the corporate urchin – the chest-beating, politicking, rumor mongers who think the best way to the corner office is by speculation. “When written in Chinese, the word "crisis" is composed of two characters one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”

3. People behavior
Despite the explosions at Fukushima nuclear plant, and subsequent threats of a nuclear meltdown the people of Japan have been remarkably calm. There were no reports of looting anywhere. In fact the Japanese are not even overstocking – lest it leads to an artificial inflation/scarcity of supplies. Television images showed disciplined queues for water and groceries. A commendable achievement by a nation as a whole. And this has nothing to do with Japan being a “first world country”. The moment the rules don’t matter – people’s true self
comes to fore. 
The lesson here is about the difference between implementing rules, and adopting a culture. You can keep people on a tight leash, dictate the work clothing, mandate to report at 9 am. You can do all this when you have the rules. But what happens when the rules don’t matter? Do the people still care about their peers, about the rules, about the legalese, and more importantly – what matters to the company? This is the difference between having rules, and having a CULTURE. Try the latter it is easier to implement – especially when there is an emergency.



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