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Furukawa reflects on Iwata and Yamauchi, his approach to leading Nintendo

Posted on February 28, 2021 by (@gamrah) in General Nintendo, News

Shuntaro Furukawa

Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa recently sat down with Nikkei to discuss his approach to leading the company through the current Switch era, as well as what influences past presidents like Satoru Iwata and Hiroshi Yamauchi had on him. He acknowledges that Iwata’s style is not something anybody can replicate but noted that even though he’s no longer with the company, Iwata’s influence remains at the company.

For Furukawa’s full comments, you can find Nintendo Everything’s full translation after the jump.

What sort of influences did past presidents like Mr. Iwata and Mr. Yamauchi have on you?

Furukawa: Regrettably, I never spoke directly with Mr. Yamauchi. However, I’ve heard all about Yamauchi’s philosophy from Iwata and his successor Mr. Kimishima. At management policy briefings, I say “Entertainment is valuable because it’s different to other things [we do in life]”, but these are Yamauchi’s words. He laid out a universal way of thinking for us which is the foundation of the current Nintendo.

Mr. Iwata took over that and left a lot of people in the company who could take initiative and think for themselves. I had many opportunities to work with Mr. Iwata when I was assigned overseas and learned a lot by consulting with him and getting guidance from abroad.

What did you learn from Mr. Iwata?

Furukawa: I learnt all sorts of things from Mr. Iwata, but it’s best I refrain from mentioning specifics. He didn’t like the fact there are people still at Nintendo who say “I learned this from Mr. Iwata.” We’re confident that Iwata himself wouldn’t approve of that, so that’s why we keep that close to our hearts.

Are you aiming for a management style that’s different from Iwata?

Furukawa: Right, his style isn’t something that anyone can imitate. It’s better to do what you can do in your own way.

How will you lead Nintendo?

Furukawa: Mr. Iwata’s successor, Mr. Kimishima, took over as president in the emergency state following Iwata’s sudden death. He worked on changing the way the company works so that it can be run without Iwata’s charisma. My plan is to proceed down that route.

We are still taking through the group leadership that we introduced after Mr. Yamauchi retired. There are both hardware developers and software developers in the management team, so I don’t do development at all. I simply enjoy the games and leave it to the people in charge to judge whether it’s good or bad.

The core principles behind our finances are to ensure the company continues. I’ve been in the game console business for over 30 years, and with good times also comes the bad. As the times change, our management will make level-headed decisions, changing what needs to be changed in the company.

To hear what else Furukawa had to say in the interview, check out our coverage from earlier here and here.

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