Making an effort vs. getting results

handwritten people notebook office

When I was learning Kanji, focusing on having the correct stroke order was of the upmost importance, almost as important as forming the right character (which I think is more important). Knowing what number stroke a single stroke is is also part of the Kanji Kentei tests, although thankfully I think it's only at the lower levels. When I asked why it was so important to focus on the stroke order, I was met with 'because this is the easiest way to write it'. Well, I don't know who decided that it was the easiest way to write it, and I don't know why if the results are the same it really matters, but it was quite strongly enforced.

This led me to think more about method and results in Japanese society. From what I've seen in Japanese culture, when it comes to things like work and making products, they very much focus on whether your method is correct, rather than whether the results reflect what you want them to.

Well, when the results do come, obviously they do measure their performance, and I guess this means they are putting the blame on internal factors, even when the blame could easily be placed on external factors. I guess in some way this means that they are better at accepting responsibility.

Focus on method coupled with the subsidies that local governments offer is actually in a way a recipe for disaster because to meet the requirements of these subsidies, you simply have to show that you are making an effort. The important thing is that you are trying. The result is not as important. This makes it easier for people to take advantage of local government subsidies too, because they can bend the results to show that they made an effort, where they may not have (not to mention the subsidies are usually only good for one year at most, so there is no long-term responsibility <is this a result of a relationship-based society?).

Either way, a balanced approach focusing on both method and results is necessary. The west tends to be focusing on the method more and more, making sure things are made in an environmentally, and harm-free way, which ironically Japan doesn't seem to care as much about, i.e. the amount of plastics used in packaging.



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Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan

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