Saturday, December 6, 2014

Jean-Pierre Lehmann in Forbes: Japan's humility had turned to hubris

"Pride before destruction"*
The flight of Icarus-Ικάρων

Jean-Pierre Lehmann in Forbes    takata-and-the-japanese-auto-quality-crash-what-it-means/

With the spectacular economic rise of Japan in the 1980s – leading to the prediction that by the early 21st century it would overtake the US economy – humility turned to hubris. Akio Morita, co-founder of Sony and one who had greatly been inspired by the teachings of Edwards Deming, co-authored a book in 1989 with extreme rightist Japanese politician, former governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, entitled The Japan That Can Say “No”, the basic tenor of which was that Japan was superior to the US (and the rest of the world), with strong attributions made to the impact of Japanese culture on this condition; and hence had nothing to learn.Among other factors lying behind Japan’s fall in quality manufacturing standards was failing to take seriously the challenge from Chinese and especially Korean manufacturers, just as Americans and Europeans had failed to take seriously the challenge from Japan. Arrogance and prejudice account for much in both cases. Today, to give one illustration, Samsung totally dwarfs Sony.

So the narrative of Takata is the narrative of Japan’s rise with humility and fall with hubris. Its redemption lies in recapturing those erstwhile qualities of humility, intellectual curiosity and a desire to learn. Humility however is not one of the arrows in the nationalist Abe’s quiver. In the meantime the contemporary Japanese narrative is of a steep decline in quality, as tragically illustrated by Takata.

לִפְנֵי שֶׁבֶר גָּאוֹן וְלִפְנֵי כִשָּׁלוֹן גֹּבַהּ רוּחַ Proverbs 16:18

Question: How can humility, which would lead to noticable changes in product design and manufacturing quality control, be reconciled with products liability legal defense? Is it possible?