James Fallow has been living in China, traveling in Japan. He noticed two different approaches to refueling the same small plane.
In Japan they do it this way. Note the uniform, safety outfits, and cushion to protect the plane’s wing.
In, China, they just do what has to be done, in any way they can.
As Fallow writes in his Atlantic blog:
With usual caveats against sweeping generalization, what this made me think was: Japan is all about the way of doing things. Practice, ritual, perfectionism, as much fanatical attention to the process as to the result. China is all about finding a way to do things. Improvisation, little interest in rules, putting up with whatever is necessary to attain the result.
(Yeah yeah yeah, there are exceptions: perfectionist operations in China, loosey-goosey ones in Japan. Still.)
At the moment, I am feeling positive toward both approaches. The emphasis on the right way of doing things is re-surprising on each encounter with Japan. And the determination to do things in China, no matter what, commands respect, despite the obvious complications and problems it creates.