Using a Chainsaw To Cut Butter


This is a wise saying by Barry Commoner, an American biologist, to express the inefficiency of nuclear power generation. By the way, this topic is not about energy policies; don’t worry. I interpret the point of his saying is adequacy rather than efficiency. In terms of adequacy, our production may look to have a problem.

I think it would be quality that best features our products, but sometimes we have been faced with requests or advice, saying, “It’d be better to sacrifice quality a little bit to save costs.” Indeed, our production sometimes goes excessive: making a flush surface even in out-of-sight parts, for example. We, Japanese, may be always too serious to be sloppy and may have to be a little more permissive. As it is seen in the article referred above, the only 20-second delay of a train is subject to apology here in Japan.

What is the basis of our high product quality is strong technical capacity, or craftsmanship. A large thing will serve for a small one: our production could make low-priced and mundane things for which no special skills are required, but we would end up losing craftsmanship — chainsaws. It’s not only about techniques but also about morale. Different from machines, craft people cannot adjust themselves so easily like being in energy-saving mode for this; serious mode for that. They will lose their motivation and ambition.

In order to survive the market competition, it would not be product quality (even though it’s a little excessive) that we should sacrifice. We just need to keep on using our chainsaws adequately.