Japanese are Good at Innovation, not Invention
How is it that an island with such poor resources could achieve such remarkable economic growth? One of the major reasons for this is that Japanese are experts in creating good products. It is safe to say that Japanese are not generally good at inventing great products that change society such as cars and televisions, but that they have great talent in innovation, particularly in skillfully miniaturizing products.
Automaker Toyota, which started out manufacturing small cars and later became a global household name, and Sony, which enjoyed great success in miniaturizing audio equipment such as Walkmans, are two good examples of the Japanese way of creating original products by innovating existing products. Common characteristics of innovative Japanese products are their ease of use and efficiency. It can be said that the best-kept secret behind the success of Japanese products is quality control.
Japanese enterprises thoroughly adopted the idea of total quality management (TQM), an innovative system advocated by an American, Professor William DEMING, after World War II and built trust in made-in-Japan products through their strong focus on quality. Furthermore, they focused on “kaizen” (improvement). It is not an exaggeration to say that the success of Toyota is owed greatly to this “kaizen.” The term “kaizen” is now used worldwide.
Japanese have proved that it is possible to succeed by improving work processes and adding value despite lack of originality. You could say that the skill of creating better products by improving them is a distinctive Japanese characteristic.