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07-06-2017, 03:34 AM - 4 Likes   #121
JPT
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There are three points I'd like to make about interpreting statements from Ricoh Japan.

1. Its quite normal for companies to make aspirational statements about where they'd like to be some years in the future. If five companies all say that are planning to be no 1 in AF five years from now, does that make four of them dishonest? Goals in Japan tend to be less binding than in the US. No one in going to lose their job for not delivering on a statement like that.

2. What is said about the Japanese being indirect in their communication is certainly true. You need to have a lot of experience working with Japanese to interpret the intention of certain types of statement.

3. Everything we hear from Ricoh has either been spoken in a second language or been translated. There's a high chance of the meaning getting distorted.

So I find it's a bit of a futile exercise to analyse the statements in these interviews so closely. And it's also not really fair to get angry when they don't mean what you thought they meant.

07-06-2017, 04:03 AM   #122
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Thank you for your insight.

The reason I can find those interviews valuable is precisely because I don't read too much into them... I'm definitely not making up product roadmaps out of nothing
07-06-2017, 04:45 AM   #123
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QuoteOriginally posted by serothis Quote
Imagine a Sony A7r ii body, k-1 feature set and the fa limiteds.
The only fastlane to this wish is asking someone to make a full working adapter to have K-mount lenses on Sony A7r ii.
07-06-2017, 05:42 AM   #124
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QuoteOriginally posted by thibs Quote
Those are quite vague if not empty words, if that was not obvious to you.
But then you take it is if they promised they would be indeed 1st in AF in x numbers of years.

You interpretation seems very bold to me but IMO the root of the problem is elsewhere: way of most Japanese companies communicates and the way european guys and american guys do communicate.
IMO, europeans are more straight to the point, no trying to be overly polite (which most japanese certainly do).
Then most americans are VERY straight to the point, more like "he said so he has to". This may actually be seen as rude even by europeans (any of course japanese).
We just communicate differently and that's fine as long as we do not expect others do so as we're used to.

But I understand the frustration from japanese way of communicating. And this doesn't change anything as for products not being launched.
So what did the ricoh rep mean in stating, "In regard to the autofocus of the K-5 II, we developed it aiming to be number one in high sensitivity, but right now in the development team we are looking to become number one in autofocus." ?

07-06-2017, 06:14 AM - 3 Likes   #125
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
There are three points I'd like to make about interpreting statements from Ricoh Japan.

1. Its quite normal for companies to make aspirational statements about where they'd like to be some years in the future. If five companies all say that are planning to be no 1 in AF five years from now, does that make four of them dishonest? Goals in Japan tend to be less binding than in the US. No one in going to lose their job for not delivering on a statement like that.

2. What is said about the Japanese being indirect in their communication is certainly true. You need to have a lot of experience working with Japanese to interpret the intention of certain types of statement.

3. Everything we hear from Ricoh has either been spoken in a second language or been translated. There's a high chance of the meaning getting distorted.

So I find it's a bit of a futile exercise to analyse the statements in these interviews so closely. And it's also not really fair to get angry when they don't mean what you thought they meant.

Top points. In addition, I would add that a marketing team can only present what has been presented to them. If plans change upstream, then the marketing teams plans must changed accordingly. All they can say is what is the case at the time based on the knowledge they have (senior management may not have told them very much).

I would think that quite a few statements made by Ricoh's marketing team have been overtaken by subsequent events. For example, the financial crisis at Ricoh generally seems to have led to a careful view of each of the company's business units during the past year. So it is entirely possible that statements made at, say, Photokina in 2016 no longer hold - a subsequent company review has laid down different goals and strategies.

There's no bad faith in this matter at all. It is just people doing their job - and much of that cannot be more than presenting a snapshot in time. The common thread here if there is one is differentiation. Pentax do what Pentax do. They aren't going to produce a camera which could have been made by Nikon or Fuji, so don't interpret what they say as implying they are about to. And exactly how and what Pentax do is dependent on goals laid down higher up the chain well above the marketing level.

Folks who expect companies to hold to past statements with gluelike precision aren't being realistic, imho, or they are pushing an agenda, perhaps because that's their job. Things just can't work like that in a highly uncertain world. As JPT says, don't confuse facts with aspirations.

Last edited by mecrox; 07-06-2017 at 06:22 AM.
07-06-2017, 06:17 AM   #126
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QuoteOriginally posted by mee Quote
But "research in progress" is identical to saying "we are looking into it" -- its a vague statement.

Yes, one can read older interviews and make a note of which particular words and phrases are used. But that can be it's own form of confirmation bias, as you say.
To the Japanese speaker, those phrases are neither identical, nor vague. I had the chance to visit Japan a few years back, and it quickly became clear that in the Japanese culture, the relationship between words and meaning is much more nuanced and dependent on context than in Western cultures. Check out Be careful of the meaningless “yes” and hidden “no”, especially the last paragraph, or Ambiguity in traditional Japanese culture and why it can be an obstacle for companies trying to internationalize .
07-06-2017, 06:19 AM   #127
mee
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Hmmm so they get a pass to say whatever they want? Then it is better not to have interviews at all. Because they can say anything one day then the next be allowed not to be held to what they said; There is no point in discussion if truth is subjective to that point in time.
07-06-2017, 06:23 AM   #128
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QuoteOriginally posted by cfraz Quote
To the Japanese speaker, those phrases are neither identical, nor vague. I had the chance to visit Japan a few years back, and it quickly became clear that in the Japanese culture, the relationship between words and meaning is much more nuanced and dependent on context than in Western cultures. Check out Be careful of the meaningless “yes” and hidden “no”, especially the last paragraph, or Ambiguity in traditional Japanese culture and why it can be an obstacle for companies trying to internationalize .
"In business world, when you hear a Japanese say 前向きに考えます(We open our mind to it), 努力してみます (We’ll try our best), 考えておきます(We will think about it), 検討させていただきます(Please let us study it) or other similar phrases, he is rejecting you politely, trying not to hurt your feeling with a direct rejection. You should NOT call him next week and ask him about the progress of his study, because he will never do any study. It applies sometimes even when a Japanese is speaking in English. So how to tell when a Japanese really means to say ‘yes’? A good rule of thumb is whether he goes into details to elaborate his ‘yes’ or just say ‘yes’ without adding anything."

That is precisely what they said though.. we are studying it/we are researching it/we will think about it.. from your own page, seem to be saying the same thing - 'no.'

07-06-2017, 06:38 AM   #129
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Sigh... cfraz actually said:
QuoteOriginally posted by cfraz Quote
To the Japanese speaker, those phrases are neither identical, nor vague.
yet your interpretation is waaay off.

I don't get why you're so against to us reading such interviews, to the point of even suggesting it's better not to have any?

And no, that's not "precisely what they said". I recommend you to refresh your memory by reading one or two of those interviews; you'd be able to see a wide range of statements, some crystal clear even to "westerners", others more nuanced.
07-06-2017, 06:44 AM   #130
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Good grief, guys. Isn't this thread about a survey???
07-06-2017, 06:48 AM   #131
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Yes. And surveys, interviews, press releases etc. should be killed with fire! ;-)
07-06-2017, 07:04 AM - 1 Like   #132
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QuoteOriginally posted by mee Quote
Hmmm so they get a pass to say whatever they want? Then it is better not to have interviews at all. Because they can say anything one day then the next be allowed not to be held to what they said; There is no point in discussion if truth is subjective to that point in time.
They aren't going to say what they want. They would be fired if they did. They are going to say what Pentax's currently public plans are - and like any plans, these cannot be more than intentions or aspirations. In the normal course of events all or most of them would come to pass, but sometimes that doesn't happen for various reasons. Just like life. Folks so often forget three important things here: a) cultural misinterpretation; b) facts vs aspirations; c) differentiation - whatever Pentax do must be done in a way that differentiates their products from those of competitors or the company no longer has a reason to exist.

I agree this makes interviews pretty pointless, but then they often are if you are looking for specifics. Look instead at how the company presents itself, how it feels about itself, how it works - all more revealing than a spec sheet about pixel pitches, I think.
07-06-2017, 07:10 AM   #133
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QuoteOriginally posted by mee Quote
"In business world, when you hear a Japanese say 前向きに考えます(We open our mind to it), 努力してみます (We’ll try our best), 考えておきます(We will think about it), 検討させていただきます(Please let us study it) or other similar phrases, he is rejecting you politely, trying not to hurt your feeling with a direct rejection. You should NOT call him next week and ask him about the progress of his study, because he will never do any study. It applies sometimes even when a Japanese is speaking in English. So how to tell when a Japanese really means to say ‘yes’? A good rule of thumb is whether he goes into details to elaborate his ‘yes’ or just say ‘yes’ without adding anything."
So when they say that they "study the market" they actually do nothing and sit on their behind.
07-06-2017, 07:33 AM   #134
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Hmm... maybe working on other things is actually an option?
07-06-2017, 08:40 AM - 1 Like   #135
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QuoteOriginally posted by mee Quote
Hmmm so they get a pass to say whatever they want?
That wasn't my point.

The Western reader may view those comments as vague, non-committal and evasive while to the Japanese reader, the meaning is perfectly clear.

And more to the point, the interviewee likely doesn't realize a good share of his meaning is lost to the Western reader.

We can rant and rave and say why don't they just say what they mean, but if our objective is to truely understand their meaning (rather than to find a statement against which we can claim we've been wronged), we may have to dig a bit deeper than we are used to.

I think some Japanese camera companies like Canon and Fuji are skilled in communicating with a Western market. On the extreme opposite end of that scale was Pentax - very Japanese-centric.

Now, Ricoh is much better in that regard, but it may take awhile for that more global sophistication to come to the Imaging group.

Ricoh has a different and more serious communication problem in my view. They understand B2B but suck at B2C (business to consumer) marketing.

---------- Post added 07-06-17 at 08:49 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by mecrox Quote
Top points. In addition, I would add that a marketing team can only present what has been presented to them. If plans change upstream, then the marketing teams plans must changed accordingly. All they can say is what is the case at the time based on the knowledge they have (senior management may not have told them very much).

I would think that quite a few statements made by Ricoh's marketing team have been overtaken by subsequent events. For example, the financial crisis at Ricoh generally seems to have led to a careful view of each of the company's business units during the past year. So it is entirely possible that statements made at, say, Photokina in 2016 no longer hold - a subsequent company review has laid down different goals and strategies.

There's no bad faith in this matter at all. It is just people doing their job - and much of that cannot be more than presenting a snapshot in time. The common thread here if there is one is differentiation. Pentax do what Pentax do. They aren't going to produce a camera which could have been made by Nikon or Fuji, so don't interpret what they say as implying they are about to. And exactly how and what Pentax do is dependent on goals laid down higher up the chain well above the marketing level.

Folks who expect companies to hold to past statements with gluelike precision aren't being realistic, imho, or they are pushing an agenda, perhaps because that's their job. Things just can't work like that in a highly uncertain world. As JPT says, don't confuse facts with aspirations.
Cogent, insightful. Thanks for writing.
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