Friday, March 19, 2010

Work Culture

Someone asked me why the work culture in Japan is bad, especially for software engineers. Here's a partial list:

# long, mostly wasted hours
# endemically poor communication skills (regardless of fluency)
# retarded skill level at all levels of the company
# non-existent management ability
# lack of engineering, or even rational mind-set
# mind-set locked into meaningless habit
# soul-crushing conformity everywhere
# insane commutes, long and packed
# lack of social connection with co-workers outside of late-night drinking
# lack of connection outside of co-workers


Zaki said...

Agree with most, but I also think that in most places it's not so difficult to start with small things like the last two of your complaints. You will find that after a while the second complaint is solved too (I think it's not as much as poor skills, but consciously repressed skills).

It takes time and a lot of patience to realize that there is less conformity and rational mind-set is also there.

It takes a whole lot more time to become able to question and change the mindless/meaningless habits and inefficient management ability - probably more time than I'd care to throw at the problem if I had it.

Now, if you could only do something about the insane commutes :) Actually, not complaining here, as it happens that I'm in a very fortunate situation not to have that problem anymore.

But yes, granted, it's sometimes amazing that software engineering (or actually, anything else) even works at some places.

R. McDougall said...

Hello my colleague in Japan Zaki! :)

You're right that it can take some work, but you can improve things, especially at small companies like 3Di, where foreigners have been accepted from the beginning, and are an integral part of the company.

But I'm also referring to other jobs I held in Japan too, and to be quite honest, I think life is too short to try an "undo" social conditioning just to be able to enjoy your work life. You'll need a lot of patience, and if you're like me, and was actually trying to accomplish something (not just live out your "time"), it can become frustrating.

As I said in the original discussion, if you approach working in Japan as a "game" or "lark", not taking it seriously, you *can* have fun. But if you try to get anything accomplished, you'll be frustrated by the "hammer" keeping your down.

shigemitsu said...

In Japan, nobody want to become an engineer.
Because they know most directors and managers treats engineers like a slave.
They do not respect an engineer at all.
So engineers decrease, and managers are multiplying :)

R. McDougall said...


The US has the same problem. Both Japan and the US became economic powerhouses based on the strength of their engineers; people who make things.

Now everyone wants to get paid to watch other people (engineers in china) make things.

You can't stay on top that way. :(