Japan has a highly automated industrial sector which has fuelled productivity growth over several years. However this efficient sector is only a pat of the Japanese economy (though an important part) and the rest of the economy – and especially the services sector has a very poor track record – relying on long hours of hard work to get things done, rather than streamlined processes and procedures.

The lesson is that you need to make improvements where they have maximum impact, not where they are easiest to make.