Japanese standards in a Pakistani world

Maintaining Japanese standards is a challenge. But when you’re doing it in Pakistan, it’s a nightmare in hell. I’m managing a project for the Japanese where despite all the planning and preparation, it is running well below my expectations (and hence the clients’). While I almost never had to deal with Japanese clients directly in Japan (thanks to the my nice bosses), it is I who has to do it here and it’s not a pretty thing.

The biggest issue here is the lack of punctuality for Pakistanis, especially laborers and workers. A delay of a few hours is a serious setback for a large project, but taking a few days off, that too without notice, is normal for these people. It was a similar situation with the last project I did, but at least the client wasn’t Japanese and we were able to complete everything to their satisfaction. I remember that while in Japan, even I knew what I would be doing each hour of the week ahead. For the Japanese, it’s normal to have a detailed hourly schedule for at least the next 2 weeks and a less specific one for the coming months and even years.

Next issue is quality. It seems that it’s impossible to get quality without taking on the role of a tyrannical dictator. Starting to get the hang of that one. You really have to get into the nitty-gritty of everything and make sure your orders are being followed. Now things are improving and the project is moving forward.

The project really makes me miss Japan. For the first time in a number of years, I have a chance to speak Japanese and I love it. Though almost all the Japanese speak a certain amount of English (and a few who even know Urdu), it’s pretty difficult to communicate effectively without using more than one or two languages. I never thought my fairly basic Japanese would be so useful.

2 thoughts on “Japanese standards in a Pakistani world

  1. One Project Manager I work with is a tyranical dictator, and checks every day whether you are doing his work or not. This is a pain but you can never forget his tasks and because his project is under control, he never comes at the last minute with something that either he or you forgot about. I’d rather work with him than the least organized PM.

    Can you give your workers a bonus if they work everyday? Or have a competition for the best attendance where the person with the best attendance gets the bonus at the end.

  2. The issue isn’t really with my own team. They’re quite competent and responsible. The problem starts when I have to employ people on a contract basis or outsource a project.

    These people are used to working on multiple projects simultaneously, not giving quality on any of them. It doesn’t matter how much you pay them or how well you plan, that’s how they work. Until now, I have had bad experiences with all such people I’ve dealt with.

    Still, after some threats and pressurizing, the current contractor has hired somewhat competent resources so maybe I’m going in the right direction.

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