Friday, May 24, 2013

Made In Japan: Akio Morita & Sony

Japan is the first Asian nation that busted the myth that Eastern countries cannot do successful business in a large scale. It is a curious case because Japan is not endowed with much natural resources or natural wealth like many other countries. After its devastation and humiliation in World War II, Japan’s awakening from ashes to become one of the richest countries in the world is a story of success, meticulous planning, hard work and determination. Who else is better to tell this inspiring tale than one of the forerunners of Japanese industrialization and co-founder of Sony, Akio Morita? 

Made In Japan: Akio Morita and Sony is an autobiography of Akio Morita written with the assistance of Edwin H Reingold and Mitsuko Shimomura. In parallel to the life story of Morita, this book describes how Sony was formed and its rise to global prominence as an entertainment company. The book is divided to nine sections: War, Peace, Selling to the World, On management, American and Japanese styles, Competition, Technology, Japan and the World and World Trade. The book starts with details on social structure before the world war, the description about war times and the subsequent defeat of Japan after the infamous Hiroshima- Nagasaki episode. The book goes on detailing the horrors Japan had to suffer – physical and psychological, after the defeat. Then Masaru Ibuka opened a small radio shop in a beaten down departmental store building. Soon 25 year old Morita joined him to form Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation with just 20 employees and financial backup from Morita’s family who were involved in sake production. It started by making transistor radios and tape recorder and marketing inside Japan. Soon the name was changed into Sony.

In subsequent chapters Morita explains how Sony became the giant it is internationally, especially in the USA through employing several unique strategies. Made in Japan is a firsthand narration from a leading industrialist about his personal and professional achievements. He lists out several of his and his companies philosophies that helped in achieving the phenomenal growth. So this book is really of benefit to managers and entrepreneurs. But the success of the book lies in the fact that even others can enjoy the book thanks to its simple narration. The insights provided in this book can be put to use in any walk of life. There are several parts where I really felt humbled by the man’s down to earth attitude and common sense. Another interesting factor is his outspoken nature that calls a spade a spade. One example is the chapter where he lists out the differences between American and Japanese management styles. 

‘Made In Japan: Akio Morita and Sony’is a compelling book, which I will recommend to one and all. It tells the success story of a man, a firm and a nation against all imaginable odds. It can be read as a history book, a motivational discourse, a management guide or just as a delightfully written autobiography of a genius.

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