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Kimishima on Yamauchi’s philosophies, Furukawa’s strong points and why he’s fit to be Nintendo’s president

Posted on May 2, 2018 by (@NE_Brian) in General Nintendo, News

Hiroshi Yamauchi was Nintendo’s president for over 50 years. During his lengthy tenure, Yamauchi was known for some interesting philosophies, including how “the president of Nintendo needs to be a little unusual.”

One investor brought this point up during Nintendo’s financial results briefing last week. Current president Tatsumi Kimishima was also asked about the criteria he used to select Shuntaro Furukawa as the next president.

Kimishima offered up the following lengthy response:

“I have my own thinking about why Mr. Yamauchi talked about being unusual when he named Mr. Iwata as president. Mr. Yamauchi worked for more than 50 years in the game business and he stubbornly stuck to his beliefs. He always felt that software is key to the game business, and that creating the software naturally takes time and labor as well as money, and that you have to go all out and never quit. He also always felt that the purpose of the hardware is to bring the best out of the software, and he never changed his thinking on this. I imagine he would say that a person who would readily bend Nintendo’s core attitudes would be unfit for the job. In a sense, he was calling for a stubborn person, or as he might say, a thoroughly unusual person. My understanding is that he used that word to mean someone who would not change, no matter what other people or what other companies said, and would want to preserve any aspect that makes Nintendo different from the others.

As to whether Mr. Furukawa is in any way unusual, I can just say he has extremely strong inner fortitude. He has clear and articulated opinions, he understands the Nintendo point of view, and he can express that to everyone in his own words. The Corporate Planning Department (headed by Mr. Furukawa) has the important mission of conveying the Nintendo point of view to all employees, including people involved in development and sales as well as people in other countries. It is important that the department remain on point no matter where the conversation leads, and he has been extremely competent at that.

Another component has something to do with the fact that more than half of Nintendo’s 5,500 employees work outside of Japan. It would be hard for anyone to lead Nintendo if unable to directly communicate their views to overseas workers, including those in important senior positions, or if they could not make decisions quickly, and lacked the capabilities to follow through. That is why I see Mr. Furukawa’s overseas work experience as something that makes him a good choice for our new president. After Mr. Yamauchi’s presidency, there was a change in the environment surrounding Nintendo, where no longer could any single person decide matters on their own. That was the start of the collective leadership system that I, too, have carried on. In my view, Mr. Furukawa’s role as president is to bring the best out of the excellent people responsible for software development, hardware development, sales, and marketing. He must steer Nintendo as a whole, and push for the points that must not change. The executive board resolved to choose Mr. Furukawa as the right person for that role.”

As part of the same question, Furukawa was asked about what kind of company he wants Nintendo to become. He responded with the following:

“The one thing we must never forget when running Nintendo is that we are a company that makes entertainment products and playthings, not necessities. It is a business where our mere existence could be quickly forgotten if consumers stopped considering our products to be fun and interesting. No matter how the era or the environment changes, the essence of our business will not change. It is a high-risk business, so there will be times when business is good and times when business is bad, but I want to manage the company in a way that keeps us from shifting between joy and despair. As for the question of what kind of company I want to make of Nintendo, this is a company that continues to be an integrated hardware and software business in the world of dedicated video game platforms. We work hard to keep the odds of success in our favor, but there are times when things go well, and times when they do not. This is a high-risk business by its very nature, and that will not change. But we need to be a company that continues to ask ourselves what we can do to maintain our relationships with consumers, and how we can leverage our ingenuity to mitigate the risks even a little bit, and never come to the conclusion that there is nothing we can do.”

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