imageI was reading my morning news, twitter style of course, and happened upon a report reproduced by Fast Company, that discussed decoupling, a term that simply represents being more productive as a society, and using less resources.

Decoupling in Japan

The information cited was published in a recent report from UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, that focused on the 2050 decoupling goals, and the rate of consumption of resources across the globe. Where the discussion led to another UNEP report on global decoupling models in use, Japan was highlighted.

“Japan is committed to becoming a ‘Sustainable Society’ focused on low carbon, the reduction, reuse and recycling of materials, and harmony with nature. The flow of materials is carefully accounted. Japan’s measures ‘are probably the most advanced examples (of) increasing resource productivity and minimizing negative environmental impacts in practice’ the report states”.

What is interesting is the level of manufacturing that is still implemented in Japan, and the success they have within the constraints of lower consumption. I suspect this is a result of being a very rule driven and common goal oriented society. This is obviously the most fundamental factor in the success of any program – Getting everybody on board.

…but can you get everyone else on board?

Global Fight against Sustainable Design

Japan owns the market where it comes to Lean manufacturing. However, their hold on global manufacturing is slipping, partly due to the huge demand for crappy products that will be thrown away instead of being repaired and reused.  It’s nice to say that Japan’s model is working, and that global decoupling can work. However when the best model of lean design in use is being overrun by the constantly changing nature of global desire for gadgetry, will that  decoupling model still be present?

Corporate policies in Japan have already been changing to adapt to the rapidly changing demands of the globe. Unfortunately, these changes are counter intuitive with regard for the way their society has successfully operated for over a century. Something is going to break under the strain…

My wife reminds me of the things that Japan has bounced back from, and I must agree with her on that (not much else though). The Japanese ‘work together to overcome’ will prosper in the new global market, as the corporate changes evolve; but at what price?

Are my concerns are purely selfish? Hell yes. Let me tell you, I have never felt so comfortable as I did in Japan. The amazing harmony and wonderful spirit among the people will be scarred by the workplace that is composed of constantly changing rules. Hectic marketplace, get out of my way, and all that. The more rapidly changing of adaptations they are forced to adopt, the farther reaching  and more deeply the impact will occur.

Will the global employment of sustainable design and harmony catch up with Japan before their lifestyle is dramatically affected?

The Fast Company article