Japan - Moving Towards a More Advanced Knowledge Economy
edited by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Tsutomu Shibata

Japan - Moving Towards a More Advanced Knowledge Economy scan 1 main image

This fine technical tome is available as a free download from the World Bank web site. I would quietly suggest that it is part of an ongoing movement to portray Japanese business excellence as less about banal, inexpensive, things like quality circles and production-line-stop buttons, and more about groovy, added-value, stuff like 'knowledge infrastructure', 'a culture of learning' and 'the information eco-system'. Good on them!

This particular book includes a short but interesting article on Shimano. It contains plenty of business school gobbledy-gook, some of the most impressively incomprehensible diagrams that I have seen, and last, but not least, a collection of pointed anecdotes, concisely told:

  • I hadn't appreciated that Shozaburo Shimano's three sons each had a name ending in 'zo', that 'zo' is associated with '3', and that, therefore, together they made up '3.3.3.'. Brilliant!
  • I like the 1970s idea of Campagnolo as 'the Rolex of the industry'.
  • It will take me some time to clear the image from my head of earnest male Shimano engineers riding around in skirts and high-heels so that they could experience just how user-unfriendly bicycles were for the female office workers of the time.

If this is what the World Bank spends its money on, then I am a fan.