Competitive Strategies:

Competitive Advantage

Competitive Advantage: USA versus Japan

Manufacturing Strategies Used by U.S. and Japanese Companies


Vadim Kotelnikov personal logo Vadim Kotelnikov

Founder, Ten3 Business e-Coach Inspiration and Innovation Unlimited!,  Author of e-Coach for Asia-Pacific Countries



Comparative Strengths & Advantages:

  • United States where markets and technologies undergo constant and rapid changes

  • Japan where technologies are relatively stable and making incremental improvements is the basis for advantage




U.S. Companies


Venturing unlimited


"It's not the big that eat the small... it's the fast that eat the slow."

Japanese Companies

Improvement unlimited


"O snail,

climb Mount Fuji

with no hurry."

The Core Advantage

Making Things Better

Making Things Cheaper

  • Job enlargement programs

  • Outsourcing

  • Automation and robotics

Making Things Faster

  • Continuous reduction of lead and setup times

  • Equipment maintenance

  • Supervisory training

  • Broadening of worker's jobs

Being More Agile*

  • Considering agility as an integral part of quality and delivery capability; a by-product of action programs to improve these areas

New Product Development




* - the ability to introduce faster new products and designs and respond quickly to changing customer demands; the area in which Japanese companies maintain the largest competitive lead over US and European firms


Kaizen and Radical Innovation New Product Development Synergy Sustainabe Competitive Advantage US ans Japanese Firms Radical Innovation Kaizen Continuous Improvement Firm (CIF) Radical vs. Incremental Innovation Kaizen Radical Innovation New Product Design Technology Innovation Lean Production Kaizen and Radical Innovation


Continuous Improvement (Kaizen) Culture in Japan and in the West

Kaizen is a Japanese workplace philosophy which focuses on making continuous small improvements. Kaizen is constant. It is not a problem based approach. Workers come up with new ideas and submit them all the time, and quality circles meet frequently. Any hiccup on the factory floor results in the meeting of a quality circle to talk about the issue and discuss changes to implement. As a result, Japanese companies are continuously becoming more efficient and streamlined, allowing them to effectively compete with other companies which also integrate the Kaizen philosophy into their daily practice.

Many well known Japanese companies such as Toyota and Canon use Kaizen, with a group approach which includes everyone from CEOs to janitors on the factory floor. This group approach has been adopted successfully in other regions of the world as well, but Japanese workers have refined it to an art form. It is Kaizen mindset and process-oriented thinking, as opposed to the result-oriented thinking favored by most Western firms, that has enabled Japanese industry to attain its competitive edge in the world markets... More

Suggestion Systems: American-style vs. Japanese-style

The American-style suggestion system stresses the suggestion's economic benefits and provides economic incentives.

The Japanese-style suggestion system stresses the morale boosting benefits of positive employee participation... More

Japanese Traditional Cultural Values

  • Not taking risk

  • Maintaining harmony

  • Not standing-out

Cultural Intelligence

Differences between TQM Practices in Japan and the West

Culture Dimension Scores for Selected Countries

Sustainable Competitive Advantage

Kaizen vs. Radical Innovation

Kaizen the Japanese Strategy of Continuous Improvement

Kaizen: 5 Principles

Kaizen Implementation in Japan and the West

 Kaizen Culture

3 Pillars    8 Key Elements

Quick and Easy Kaizen

Kaizen and Total Quality Management (TQM)

14 TQM Slogans at Pentel, Japan

Kaizen and Innovation

Kaizen and Kaikaku  >>  10 Kaikaku Commandments

Glossary Kaizen & Lean Production key definitions and concepts

Continuous Improvement Firm (CIF)

3 Basic Principles of Continuous Improvement

Cross-functional Management (CFM)

Lean Manufacturing

Just-in-Time (JIT) Manufacturing

Strategies of Market Leaders

3 Common Traits of Marketplace Champions

Venture Strategies

New-to-the-World Product Development

Radical Innovation

New Business Models

Fast Company

Case Studies New Business Model

Bunsha: Divide and Prosper

Canon Production System (CPS)

Charles Schwab: Fast Company

Corning: Managing Radical Innovation Through Internal Start-Ups

Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry

GE: Creating an Extraordinary Organization

GE Equity: Investing in External Ventures

Hewlett-Packard: Integrating Critical Opposites

IDEO: New Product Design

Nortel Telecom: Venture Investing

Silicon Valley Firms: Relentless Growth Attitude

Silicon Valley Firms: Attracting People To Challenges

Thermo Electron: Managing Radical Innovation Through Spin-Outs

Toyota Production System (TPS)

Inspirational Quotes

Henry Ford    Bill Gates    Steve Jobs    Jack Welch

Konosuke Matsushita    Akio Morita