Developing Trust Pays Off with Japanese Firms

In this article from Small Times, Larry Wang, vice president of the Olympus Partnership Development Group, explains, regarding the process of developing a strategic partnership with a Japanese company such as Olympus:

"Partnerships have become more commonplace in today’s global economy. Companies concentrate resources on their core competencies and seek companies with complementary resources, products and technologies for acquisition, joint ventures, partnerships or outsourcing.

In establishing any relationship, due diligence must be applied in researching and selecting a partner. This becomes even more critical in international partnerships...

Most partnerships involve large Japanese corporations and smaller American companies. It takes time for the smaller partner to understand a big organization and to navigate through its resources...

Although Japanese companies may sometimes publish organizational charts, and the employees have business cards with their titles on them, it’s often unclear what the important relationships and status are within the company.

U.S. companies are sometimes preoccupied with identifying who the “decision-maker” is. But generally there is not one decision-maker. Consensus decision-making is important to the Japanese.

It is more important to identify who the important “influencers” are and what their responsibilities and concerns might be. But once consensus is reached and a project receives a green light, resources can be quickly brought to help the partner company and accelerate its development.

Forming a successful partnership takes a tremendous amount of communication. Working each communication channel is vital. But even in this age of e-mail and Web conferencing, partners need to realize that face-to-face meetings are mandatory in order to increase understanding and build the relationship..."