Story // 13.10.2021

Corporate Culture: How to brainstorm with Japanese clients or colleagues

The corporate culture in a Japanese company differs from other workplaces in Europe. Especially when European and Japanese colleagues or clients are working together on a project and have brainstorming sessions, there may be misunderstandings caused by the different cultural backgrounds. These can be avoided easily by some simple agreements.

In every project, there are various brainstorming sessions and meetings held – to find a conclusion for a specific problem. By gathering a list of spontaneously contributed ideas, brainstorming can help to find effective solutions. However, at an international company like SEKISUI meetings and brainstorming sessions are held with employees from different countries or even continents and not everyone has grown up in a culture where you are able to have open discussions and share individual ideas in a group.

There are some simple steps to set-up an effective brainstorming with both European and Japanese participants:

1. Preparation is everything – in best case, every meeting member knows the topic and the question of the brainstorming in advance, so they have enough time to prepare and collect information beforehand.

2. Have brainstorming rules to approach a “group effect” – everyone knows what to prepare and how the meeting will go.

3. The usage of post-its is recommended instead of openly call-in the ideas, so participants from different countries can share their ideas in a written form (most foreign employees write English better than they speak). Moreover, this discussion method is slower and more structured.

4. Have a brainstorming with participants from the same level, because junior staff may be too shy if senior employees are joining the meeting as well.  

5. A meeting moderator can help to stick to the meeting rules, ensures that no one interrupts each other and that there is enough space for every colleague to contribute.

May your next international brainstorming session be productive with these tips!