New Japanese Word….

Well, not new, but new to me.

Mottainai. <mo tai nai  – long “o”, equal emphasis on each syllable>

My wife had to help me get the idea – there is no one word in English for it. The best we could come up with is “A philosophy of efficiency”. Basically, if there is a better way to do something, do it. If there is a better reason to *not* do something, do *not* do it.

Sounds easy, right?

Examples would be:

  • You have a 17 inch LCD monitor, and you want to buy a new 19 inch. The old one works fine, and the new one costs $350. You do not actually do anything that would benefit from a larger monitor. Mottainai – keep what you got, don’t buy the 19 inch LCD monitor.
  • Your driving home, 10 minutes away, and the kids want you to stop at a convenience store for something to drink. You have juice at home. Mottainai – wait till you get home.
  • You have some old newspaper with expired ads on it. Throw it away? Mottainai – let the kids paint on it instead.

Anyway, it just really struck a chord with me, cuz I am always trying to practice this at work and at home anyway – I just didn’t have a name for it (well, “cheap” comes to mind, but this sounds a lot better).

Fits quite nicely into all the Lean-Six-Sigma crap we are doing at work now. And hopefully, this is the last time I will bring work into my blog.


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