The latest module on the Bradford University School of Management MBA in Perugia, Italy, is Strategic Management. As part of it, the module leader Deborah Allcock, asked us to discuss the question ‘Is marriage strategic?’ It seemed an odd question at first but it really got us thinking about management strategies and how the concept of marriage translates in business.
Some of my fellow students, including managers from Italian public companies, said that marriage should be all about natural love, whereas others insisted that marriage should be a strategic decision. Those who argued the latter believed that considerations such as future career and the possibility of divorce should be taken into account before entering in to marriage.
I sat between the two opinions – I think marriage per se should be based on love but that love can collaborate strategically with life planning.
We looked at Italy’s successful sector during the module of Manufacturing Systems and Supply-Chain Design by Flavio Tonelli. Italy’s ‘Golden Triangle’ of Northern cities (Milan, Turin and Genoa) is home to many headquarters and factories of famous global companies such as Ferrari. This was one of the reasons that I chose Bradford’s MBA in Perugia because it gave me the opportunity to gain management expertise whilst being able to see its application in the Italian manufacturing industry, which is similar to that of my home country of Japan.
I attended a lecture by Flavio Tonelli, a Professor from the University of Genoa, who explained the different manufacturing systems among different countries and cultures. Toyota’s system focuses on being effective whilst not producing much waste, which enables them to maintain equivalent productivity with fewer employees. In Japan, the 5S practice contributes to significantly reducing production time, whilst the practice of Kaizen continuously improves and maintains a sophisticated production system that makes reliable products.
In India, a large number of global companies explore and outsource important roles with regard to manufacturing processes. Currently their economic growth is outstanding. Almost all US companies are superior to planning and control before they launch the operation. Furthermore, German firms are proud of stable assembly lines based on reliable machines and materials.
Flavio Tonelli investigated not only different types of manufacturing systems design but also their background and global cultural difference. In Italy, they have a unique manufacturing system design based on their culture. From my own viewpoint, the Italian manufacturing system may not be able to exist without considering coffee and tea. They believe that they can enhance effectiveness by communicating more effectively over a café espresso or cappuccino during break times. Many Italian people also spend much of their leisure time in coffee shops, relaxing with others. It can be said that productivity in Italian companies could be rising by switching between work and refreshing.
While it has not been proven that this ‘coffee culture’ motivates Italian employees to work more productively, I am convinced that the country’s manufacturing system cannot be accomplished without this typical Italian culture.
This brings me back to the question ‘Is marriage strategic?’ Like the Italian manufacturing sector, successful business is half based on the love of what you do and half based on the strategy behind it. One cannot exist without the other – businesses based solely on passion cannot be successful just as those based solely on strategy cannot.
Keep up to date with Hajime’s experiences on our MBA in Italy on the FT’s MBA blog here http://blogs.ft.com/mba-blog/author/hajimesudo