With excitement and enthusiasm, I have been forging a career as an internal manager, and external consultant, trainer and facilitator at globalizing Japanese companies. For the past ten years, as the President of Gramercy Engagement Group, I have had the fortune of presiding over various training events and global meetings. At such times, I have acted as a bridge between the headquarter operations here in Japan and the employees of the overseas subsidiaries. In this column, I would like to share some ideas and advice for smoothly conducting such cross-border initiatives.
I have had the fortunate experience to work with some major Japanese companies in developing training programs to disseminate their Corporate Philosophy (企業理念) from the Japan HQ to their overseas subsidiaries. With one company in particular, I remember the early planning stages. The HQ HR asked for an opinion from the expatriates who were currently on assignment in North America about the expected challenges of introducing the company’s Corporate Philosophy at the overseas subsidiaries. The expatriates expressed quite a pessimistic opinion; they suggested that the Corporate Philosophy was “too Japanese” and would not be understandable to foreign employees. Based upon this feedback, the HQ management were getting ready to scrap the entire project.


But firstly, I was given the chance to review the company’s Corporate Philosophy in the original Japanese.

Upon reading through the documents, I was confused. The company’s Corporate Philosophy was comprised of a clear method for handling work tasks, sort of a variation on the PDCA cycle. It also included what was referred to as the “Mind”, which was a listing of behaviors for business success. This was not the source of my confusion. What confused me was that I could not discern what was so “Japanese” about the Corporate Philosophy. What would lead the expatriates to deny introducing the Corporate Philosophy to overseas subsidiaries?

I provided my feedback to the HQ: “I do recognize that this is a “Japanese” Corporate Philosophy, but only to the extent that it was conceived of in Japan originally. But, I do not see any concepts within it that prevent it from being understood by overseas subsidiaries, provided that we can translate it appropriately and present the content in such a way that we grab the attention of the overseas employees.”

In other words, the Corporate Philosophy itself was great. But the challenge was figuring out how to develop a communications strategy and program to be rolled out globally.

Points for Rolling Out a C...