None of the points below are particularly special in their own right. The point is how they are implemented across borders!
Create strong local teams in all functional areas capable of establishing credibility with customers – empower teams to take decisions without referring to HQ all the time.
Invest time and effort in bridging cultures and removing the barriers which will inevitably build up. The Japanese team also has to understand the other teams. The process is not one-way. Frequent informal meetings are required to eliminate misunderstandings.
Adjust products and services to the Japanese business environment.
Manufacture in Japan to get the benefit of the lean supplier base and achieve the required quality.
Clearly allocate roles and responsibilities within the local and overseas business units e.g. Concept born in Germany and application engineering carried out in Japan to meet Japanese customer response time requirements.
Localise responsibility as much as possible e.g. empower local engineering and manufacturing teams to solve problems and launch initiatives.
Empower Japanese staff within a clear system using well-defined processes.
Listen to the Voice of the Customer using objective tools.
Define strategy based on VoC and align the organisation behind the strategy.
Break down internal barriers to achieve full coordination.
Use the strengths of a multi-cultural team to achieve business objectives. Sometimes a non-Japanese manager can bend conventions and persuade the customer to accept a compromise where a Japanese manager would have been trapped by convention. In other cases, the Japanese indirect, behind the scenes approach works where a direct, Western-style confrontation would fail.
Raise the communication ability of the executives, managers and staff.
Create objective tools to measure progress towards strategic goals.