Friday, May 29, 2009

Paper VS. Computer--Digital File System at Work

If every office was like the one seen in the picture I am willing to bet no one would complain about changes in daily operations. Yet, topless office ladies are the stuff of dreams and not reality. I could only guess as to the reaction of customers walking into a branch and seeing such a sight. We would be shut down in a matter of hours. The media would have a field day attacking us. Not the mention what the ministry of labor would have to say about the change in dress code. None the less, we are currently going though the growing pains of transitioning from a paper system to a digital file system.

I came into work recently and was greeted head on with a new system I had no idea how to use. There had been a few memos floating around about it, but I was under the impression that our branches were not going to be included in the new system. Sadly, I was very wrong. In my effort to be a professional, I grabbed an info packet on the new system and sat down to start using it. It was trail by fire but I learned how it works. I had to reassure the gal I work with that we could figure this whole mess out. She gets on the phone and calls a fellow co-worker from another branch trying to get the low down on the new system. This proved to be a very good thing indeed. She found out a few tricks to make the system work better. By the end of the day both of us got a good working knowledge of the system.

So, the confusion of trying to apply a digital file system brought up an interesting thought in my mind. Which is better; a paper or digital file system. There are advantage and disadvantages of both.

Paper System:


1) You have hard evidence--a paper trail proves beyond a shadow of a doubt what has been happening with each students progress; it also give hard evidence of who has been doing their job.

2) Changes can be made on the fly--Just a quick cross out with a pen and all is good.


1) Difficult is share information across branches--if a student transfers you have to start the process all over again. No one knows what was happening, with respect to the progress of the student, from one branch to the next.

2) Time--Trying to do all the paperwork on one student in ten or so minutes is a real pain in the ass! It is hard to get reports done for five students and then prepare to teach five more students in around ten minutes tops!

Digital System:


1) Speed-- A digital system really speeds up the process of updating records and filing reports. It gives us the ability to get a lot more done between lessons.

2) Space Saver-- This is a big one indeed. Imagine is you will, trying to keep track of 100 plus records in a space the size of two toilets. In that space you also have instructors, books, various materials, promo adverts storage, in-house records, and other random shit. It really helps to get all of those bulky student records out of the way.


1) System errors--What do you do when the computer system fucks up? Imagine you are trying to update students files and the system decides to not only prevent you from make any needed changes from the original lesson plan, but also not allow you to save anything. You no longer have a back-up system because the paper system has been done away with; your fucked.

2) Those who control history--There is also the issue of trusting the information you put into the system is safe. There are people who will have the ability to change any information on the master sever. One person with revenge on their mind might decide to delete your work and make you out to be a lazy bastard. There is also the issue of teacher relation privacy. A paper system allows instructors to comment about students in a manner no student should ever see. With the digital system every student will be able to see what the instructor is commenting about the lessons.

So, for better or worse a digital system is going to become the norm. Over time I suspect it will become favored by most people in the company; I hope.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Like a Mad Dog in Heat

You know, there is working hard, working your ass off, and then there is working in Japan. People in this nation work themselves to the bone at times. I used to be surprised and often wondered why people work so hard in Japan; until recently. If you just work as an instructor in Japan you really do not have to do so much to do your job well. If your lucky, or cursed, enough to break into management it becomes very clear as to why people have to work so damn hard in Japan. Truth be known, people are fucking lazy! For every one over worked person in Japan, there are at least 10 who do not do shit. If you show any ability to be a leader people will flock to you and load you down with work. There seems to be a general attitude of `Oh! He gives a shit. Give him all the work.`

So, I am sorry to burst people`s image of the hard working Japanese people. They only look like they are working hard all the time. For as many people you see working there ass off, there are twice as many people just going though the motions. I have learned this hidden fact of life in Japan from experience working in the land of the raising sun. I have seen people so quick to take the position of, `Look! It seems like he knows what is going on. Lets just follow him and do everything he says. If things fuck up it is his fault not ours.` So, they will follow you until things actually do fuck up. At that point, suddenly no one knows you and everything is your fault. I know some of you think I am kidding but this shit actually happens. You have to be very careful working in even the lowest level of management in Japan. People will screw you over in ways you could never dream of in the west.

Slowly, I have learned how to survive, yet I still makes mistakes sometimes when dealing with my Japanese counter-parts. One wrong word or move and your in the dog house until they feel you are worthy of notice again. This unique experience is something I never dealt with in America. I usually always knew exactly where I stood with upper management in America. If they did not like something I was doing they told me directly. In Japan it seems as if they do not do this kind of thing. If they have a problem with you, they do not tell you. Instead, they plan out a way to make you suffer for doing something they do not like. You have to play a damn guessing game in order to `feel out` where you stand with Japanese managers.

The best to do is never ask questions. If you do ask questions be very careful how you word your it. If you come to them very directly and straight forward they usually react in a negative manner. The Japanese seem to care about their own emotions a lot. In many cases, it depends on how they feel with respect to how serious they take you. It is a very different professional environment to say the least.

Overall, I am enjoying these challenges. Everyday something new happens which blows my mind, at the same time, motivates me to understand and carry out duties handed to me.