Sunday, December 15, 2013

Total optimization and subopitimization (3)

Total optimization and subopitimization (1)
Total optimization and subopitimization (2)

Japanese society has a unique characteristic about optimization. I named it "reverse adaptation".

In general, individuals make efforts for their own benefit. Then, suboptimization occurs. This is why a leader has to regulate the organization for the purpose of total optimization.

However, Japanese people tend to achieve total optimization from the beginning. For example, Japanese like to make a line when they have to wait for a seat. According to the thought of suboptimization, you should get your own seat, being indifferent to others. At last, every person pursuing the seat will make a quarrel. Therefore, a leader to set a rule is needed. In contrast, Japanese dare not to intrude other people. We are behaving not to break the harmony, maybe unconsciously.

This characteristic of Japanese made our society extremely lawful. The crime rate is as low as incredible for foreigners.

The situation is the same in the working place. We are always concerned whether our own behaviors would make a trouble to colleagues. Even leaving the office alone at early time is hesitated, since other workers might mind it. Some workers tend to assist their colleagues after the end of their own task. Extra working without fee is ridiculous in individual point of view, however some companies are considerably helped by such volunteers to some extent.

I believe that one of the reasons why Japan has accomplished a great recovery after the WW II is this spirit. Though we are not conscious to total optimization, our usual behaviors are likely to prior for total optimization to our own gain. It is a virtue of Japanese.

However, this kind of characteristics cannot always work effectively.

Nowadays, inflexibility of Japanese society is deemed as a barrier against innovation. We had achieved extreme adjustment for economic growth in the last century. Ironically this history of success makes us avoid from further change.

Ryoichi Tobe, a Japanese historian, named this phenomenon "excessive adjustment", in his book "The essence of failure". This book written in Japanese describes the history of the Japan army in the WW II in detail. According to him, the Japanese attempted to adapt to the situation too much, that resulted in the final failure.

Excessive adjustment is also used in the context of psychiatry. I am wondering that Japanese has this characteristic taking more value on total optimization than suboptimization. So I will call it "reverse adjustment".

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