Richard Hart

Head of Something @ Somewhere
Kent, UK

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The British are coming

No wait, no they’re not! I had an interesting talk with my Japanese teacher last night about the mentality of British people and companies. We had been talking about Japanese stationary and how it was so far superior to British counterparts. My teacher suggested that this was probably because the Japanese way of thinking is all about constantly improving and looking for better solutions (Kaizen anyone?) and of course I agreed and piped up that I felt the British way was that “once is enough”.

The more I think about it they more I think it’s true. “Anything is good enough”, “If it isn’t broken don’t fix it”, “Why do we need to improve it?” is the impression I get when I think about British people in general and especially British business. Maybe someone can prove me wrong, but I for the life of me can’t think of one global British company that isn’t a bank, oil or telecoms company. Look around your home, at the news or your local high street and you’ll see we are over run with foreign companies. Starbucks, Microsoft, Starbucks, Apple, Starbucks, Dell, Starbucks, Sony, Starbucks, Samsung, Starbucks, Dell, Starbucks, Gap, Starbucks, Nokia, Starbucks, BMW etc.

Even though my father left before he could make any kind of impression on me I really do sometimes think I picked up the American gene when it comes to doing stuff. Anything that anyone does is too slow for my liking and anything anyone produces is never good enough, no matter how good it may even be! I hold these values true for myself. I always believe I can do better and always expect myself to do so *

There is a saying that goes: In Japan the nail that stands up gets hammered down, in America the nail that stands up drives a Ferrari. Maybe we need a British version along the lines of: The nail that stands up rusts away in the British weather :P This isn’t to say that countries like Japan and American don’t have their fair share of problems because we all know they do and maybe if I was to spend as many years working in those countries I’d feel exactly the same about them. Maybe I’m completely wrong. Part of me is hoping someone will reply and prove me wrong so that I can feel better about the state of things here. I think if we try we can turn this all around and be the true Global leader when it comes to performance, innovation and business. I think if we try we can make a change. So if you are reading this and live in Britain set out to do something great in your working life this week. Do something you weren’t asked to do. Do something beyond someone’s expectations. Do something you never thought you could **

* Disclaimer 1: I may not hold these values true of my day job because I believe there is no point flogging a dead horse.
** Disclaimer 2: See Disclaimer 1, but the Faculty will be receiving an endless amount magic this week!