Last week we learned that Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima is stepping down from his position in June. Kimishima took on the responsibility of leading Nintendo when Satoru Iwata tragically passed away in 2015, but after three years it’s time to pass the mantle on to someone else.
That someone else turns out to be longtime Nintendo employee Shuntaro Furukawa. What makes him the right person for the job? Kimishima tackled that question recently when speaking with investors. As it turns out, he’s been working closely with Furukawa to make Nintendo more effective and efficient for some time now.
“My second role was to change our directorial structure to speed up decision-making and execution on a variety of projects that members of the management team were considering at the time. It takes people to support that, and it was essential that we build a structure that allowed the new generation to play an active role.
“As we progressed with delegating authority, including the authority for corporate governance, we created a system where our younger senior managers would be able to act. In the past two-plus years, they have shown what they are capable of accomplishing. Our latest financial results are far better than I originally forecasted, which speaks to the fruits of our efforts to date. My successor, Mr. Furukawa, worked with me as General Manager of the Corporate Planning Department to advance our operations. He has fully fleshed out what this non-traditional collective leadership system we created will be, so I believe this is the perfect time (for a change of president).
“With the breadth of projects we are working on, now is the time to transfer power further to new people and to promote a generational shift to bring stronger momentum to Nintendo through these changes.”
— Tatsumi Kimishima
Later in the Q and A session, an investor brought up the fact that former Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi once said Nintendo’s presidents must always be “unusual.” Kimishima interprets this to mean someone who understands Nintendo’s core philosophy and stubbornly sticks to it, even when others disagree. In this regard, Kimishima believes Furukawa is thoroughly qualified.
“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.”
— Tatsumi Kimishima
Kimishima also praised Furukawa’s experience working outside of Japan. Over half of Nintendo’s 5,500 employees are located outside of Japan, so Kimishima believes Furukawa’s global experience will be vital in decision-making. All in all, Kimishima expects Furukawa “to bring the best out of the excellent people responsible for software development, hardware development, sales, and marketing.” Kimishima and the rest of the executive board believe Furukawa can steer Nintendo in the right direction without losing sight of what’s important.
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