Sony is not what it used to be. Japan, Inc. is relevant, but no longer a powerhouse. Old school rarely gets noticed in this age of warp speed. John Nathan’s story of Sony is a cautionary tale but also highlights conscientious leadership. Sony might not have kept up with the growth of the new tech companies, but it didn’t have the volume of sordid scandals today which pose a greater threat to external growth for tech startups than the competition. The fastest-growing companies today are struggling to establish a work culture and hold onto their employees.
Sony was led by grownups who never left the room. The culture was refined and maintained by its co-founder Akio Morita. And it worked for a very long time as portrayed by John Nathan.
Based on my own experience in Japan, business life and work culture rarely changed every year. The monotony was a good thing for long-term career seekers. Professional stability also helped the Japanese maintain nuclear families. Some of my expat friends in Japan continue similar routines over two or three decades thanks to the stability of their tech employers. The same cannot be said about Silicon Valley.