Made Better in Japan" talks about how the Japanese have perfected... everything. What does it mean for the future of innovation?
For the best French food in the world, visit Tokyo, where there are more restaurants with Michelin stars than in Paris.
For the best espresso drinks, skip Italy and go to Japan. (Though several places in the US come close.)
For the best cocktails, again, go to Japan. I'll never forget the Japanese bar I visited years ago in New York. The Japanese bartender literally tasted every cocktail with a tiny tasting stick, to ensure the perfect balance of flavors. And that bartender has subsequently returned to Japan.
The best fashion denims may also come from Japanese makers like R by 45rpm.
And there are many who insist that the original Japanese version of Iron Chef is far superior to the American clone.
Even in our current cultural moment where artisanal local products like pickles handmade by hipsters are the fad of the day, the WSJ example shows what can happen when locavores serve up foreign fare. They can do it better.
Perfection can abstract away what makes something great. Sometimes it's a single dimension that's easy to measure. Other times, it's a more complex blend of characteristics that produce the perfect outcome. Either way, once something becomes perfectible, it also becomes potentially transplantable.
I won't overstate the case by calling it a paradoxical result, necessarily. But it does seem counterintuitive that the cultures that gave birth to a product might cease to be its leading producers.
America created the mass market automobile. Then Japan and Germany arguably became the leading producers.
Today American journalists like to criticize the Chinese for lack of originality. But as academics and business leaders perfect our understanding of innovation, creativity may well be transplanted and scaled up outside of the innovation centers of Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and New York.
What do you think? Will the best Hollywood movies one day come from a film studio in Japan or China? Will the best high tech products be designed, and not merely manufactured, in China?
Building Foundations for Innovation in China