The Japanese Approach to Innovation: Research for D&M
Issue 1, 1995

It is conventional wisdom that Western companies are better at inventing and developing new technologies than at producing and commercializing them, while Japanese companies are particularly skillful at commercializing technology. In the preceding article, Thomas and Maira argue convincingly for a continuous exchange of knowledge between Design and Manufacturing as a way to improve the entire product development process – from conception to commercialisation. They also illustrate some of the problems encountered by Western organisations that have tried to bridge the traditional distance between these two functions. In this article, based on extensive study and interviews in Japan1, we look at actual mechanisms used by two companies – Canon and Sony – to effectively bridge that distance.