Made in Japan in 1 year, 2 months

Finally after a year and 2 moths, I managed to finish Made in Japan by Akio Morita. There are 2 ways of interpreting that long duration. One is that the book is so uninteresting/difficult/ that it took me so long. The other is that there has to be something really exciting/engaging/ that I held on to it all this time. The answer, as usual is something in between.

The book is not and is not meant to be a weekend reading, those spurts of reading energy that let people pick up books like LOTR and actually finish them. It won't mesmerize you so much that you can't even put it down and once you put it down, it won't keep haunting you either. But there is plenty to be taken if you do come back, those small nuggets of wisdom, those small insights into things that turn dreams into reality.

For someone like me who doesn't understand the technicalities of world business, it is an interesting glimpse in to that complex and often daunting world. The important point that comes through the book is that it is not always about the money but more about the kind of value you bring to the people's life, both your customers and your employees. As you read the book, at many places, Morita comes across as a really tough person, somebody who won't relent but that has to do more with sticking to his principles and work ethics than making some quick money. He is an out and out capitalist as far as economic policies are concerned, he argues for a completely open market, pushes for monetary reforms, opposes protectionism but still abhors the idea of firing employees when company is on a down. He is not a apologist just for the sake of it, you can see that his experiences back his ideologies and not the other way round.

How the traditional businesses in Japan have been able to transform themselves into global players drawing upon their basic strong points made me thinking how all that applies to India? Contrary to Japan the major business successes of India has come from software and services industry which do not draw a lot from traditional business practices (Although I don't quite agree with this, there have been some excellent successes in other more traditional fields).

However it is difficult to draw the parallel. Japanese are known for their love for gadgets and hence the strong domestic market for these goods. In India, the domestic market has only started growing since last 1-2 decades. Moreover the sheer size and variety of customers in India is staggering. Japan is a very consolidated market, where all the customers read the same national newspaper, are in the same timezone and live within a very small piece of land. Indian markets are more comparable to US markets and in some sense, not even to them (Sometime ago I read a nice article about the India, US relationship. I will try to dig it up and put it up here). This will probably require different strategies and nurturing.

Well I can go on rambling as one thing links to other. But so much for now. Made in Japan gets added to the list of recommended readings, may be not to the favorites.

Currently I am reading some great stories by Jaya Shankar Prasad.


Indu said…
quite a long time to read something like 'Made in Japan'. Now, I won't say that I had completed it in few days. Infact,it took me two months to finish it. It gives good sense of shrewd yet quality business, considering the fact that Sony always targets high-end customers. No low range(price wise)products.

Anyway, my last one was 'Kite Runner' by Khalid Hosseini. It's a good buy.

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