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Book Recommendation: Exposure by Michael Woodford

October 9, 2013 - In Other Articles - No comments yet


This book has been quite an eye opener to how some businesses in Japan operate.  The importance of reputation, self interest and status at the top of some Japanese companies is the main driving factor for those in power, not the success of the business they run and the people working for them.  Self preservation is number one priority.  Michael Woodford comes across as a fair-minded person, with strong leadership values and with the good of the company at heart.  However, he appears to have walked into foreign territory when he became CEO.  He may have been familiar with the Japanese way of doing things but at this level, things were different – corruption is rife, the truth is not acknowledged, authority rules and management practices are quite shocking.

As Michael Woodford points out, this attitude is reflected in the opening message of the The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission http://www.nirs.org/fukushima/naiic_report.pdf

‘What must be admitted – very painfully – is that this was a disaster “Made in Japan.”  Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to ‘sticking with the program’; our groupism; and our insularity.’ 

The implications of this are worrying – a few powerful, self interested people are in control of this potentially highly dangerous industry – among others!

It is an exciting, well written book and Michael Woodford has an easy, sincere style.  His struggle to be CEO and enable the company to be successful in the face of strong resistance and corruption is a sad tale.

Recommended by Sue Nelson


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