You know, after reading this book I fell in love with Sony. It’s so hard to resist the human element of Sony’s history. From the humble beginnings in a devastated city after the second world war and the ambition Morita showed to pursue his dreams with a trusted mentor and friend, Professor Ibuka. It is a classic rags to riches story, what is there not to love?
But just as important were the ideas with which they shaped this new company. How do you build an innovation machine? Allow researchers to pursue personal interests that may not have short term goals but may be of long term strategic importance.
Giving colour and insight to this story are Morita’s reflections on Japanese history, work culture and the future. If you want to understand a little bit of where “life-time employment” came from then read this book.
The book meanders in some places and has personal opinions mixed in with factual information but it is was an easy read.
I will leave you with this quote of Morita speaking about his colleague Professor Ibuka –
“Ibuka is a great person with great leadership qualities – he attracts people to him and they invariably want to work with him. In fact, the history of our company is the story of a group of people trying to help Ibuka make his dreams come true. He never believed in one-man management. It was not only Ibuka’s genius and originality in technology fields or his ability to look in the future and accurately forecast for us accurately that struck everyone so forcefully, but his ability to take this group of young and cocky engineers and mold them into a management team that could cooperate in an atmosphere where everybody was encouraged to speak out.”
I might have overstated things when I said it was a rag to riches story. Morita’s family had a successful family business and he had been groomed, as the first son, to take over. Which brings us to …