Business Environment

Strategy and tactics in a situation where the future is uncertain【Backward and Forward Orientation】



A sense of climate-influenced time frames

In "The Garuda Merchant," written by Yusuke Fukada, a bible-like novel for Japanese living in Indonesia, there is an account of a senior official of the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs inviting Japanese and Indonesians to his home, in which he writes on the invitation card for Indonesians that the party should start thirty minutes early, on the assumption that they will be late.

It is said that Javanese people, in particular, tend to be so easygoing that "their temperament and behavior reflect their emphasis on happiness and harmony", and their cheerful, joyful expressions are dazzling to the Japanese who are so busy with their work that it's almost as if their own values were denied. As far as I'm concerned, what has fostered this "happiness and harmony-oriented thinking" is the year-round warm subtropical climate that benefits from the country's equatorial location.

Indonesians don't have to worry about dying of starvation because they can harvest rice by two or three crops due to the warmth of the climate and sufficient rainfall, while Japanese have to finish harvesting rice before the winter arrives to pay tribute or they won't be able to secure their own food.

In Japan, after planting rice, weeding and disease removal must be done properly to survive the winter, so they make a yearly plan based on harvesting the rice, but in Indonesia, they enjoy it momentarily based on the present moment because they can start over even if they fail because they can do three crops. The presence or absence of four seasons may have affected their personalities, even though they are all farmers.

Javanese mystical beliefs and Japan's eight million gods【Absorbing power from the spiritual spirits of nature】

As a result of shifting the number of days on duty for each process back from the shipping date, the manufacturing process needs to start at the latest to be ready for shipping, a method of production planning in the manufacturing industry. This is the most ideal idea in the midst of a corona pandemic like the one we're experiencing now, which is to keep the period of time in which things are flowing through the company as short as possible to reduce the risk of volatility.

On the other hand, the idea that if you start manufacturing now, you can ship at the earliest possible time is called forward orientation, which is suitable for when the economy is booming and factories need to operate at full capacity to keep up with shipments, but if you manufacture too many products too soon, product inventory will remain in the company for a long period of time before they are shipped, occupying warehouse space.

Backward orientation is a basic concept of the Toyota Production System, and I think it's a very Japanese concept, but most manufacturing sites in Indonesia are characterized by the fact that production is carried out based on a forward-oriented production plan and a maximum inventory limit (max inventory) is set to prevent overproduction.

Division of roles between the Kanban system and the scheduler

In business, strategy is backward-oriented, but tactics are forward-oriented.

As an indicator of your partner's personality, it's a good idea to ask them how many hours before departure time they will arrive at the airport, but there are people like me who arrive three hours before boarding time and have to kill time in the airport cafe to get ready for the flight, and there are people like my Indonesian partner who arrive at the last minute, 30 minutes before boarding, and board while the final call is ringing.

If it's an exam, the date of the exam and the benefits that come with the qualification are clear, but in the case of a business, even if the goals you want to achieve are clear, you may hesitate before doing it, or you may lose heart and fall behind because you don't know if the investments, sales activities, and product development to achieve them will meet the needs of the market or whether they are cost effective.

If the Corona disaster forces us to change the way we work, and if it makes us more efficient, that's a good thing, but even so, I think there will always be a religious part of us that can't clearly explain why we do it, but I think there will always be a religious part of us that will see something beyond what we do.

Even though we know in our minds that it is important to clarify the difference between what we can't understand until we do it and what we can understand without doing it, many times in the past, what we thought was useless has turned out to be a good learning experience after doing it.

Particularly in a business environment such as Indonesia, where laws and regulations change frequently and where it is common for capital strength to cause latecomers to quickly gain market share in the market and the balance of power to be thrown off in an instant, the overall strategy is to plan with a backward orientation. But the tactics in a situation where you can't see what's going to happen next will have to be formulated with a forward orientation.

  • Don't be afraid of what happens if you go this way.
    If you are afraid, there is no way to go, but if you take a step, that step is the way.
    Don't hesitate to go. You'll understand when you get there.

This is a quote from Antonio Inoki to open up his life, but in a business environment where the future is uncertain due to the effects of the corona pandemic, I think it is necessary to have a forward orientation, stepping forward and making corrections in the right direction.

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