Today in the WSJ, Yukari Iwatani Kane has an interview with Toshiba Corp. Chief Executive Atsutoshi Nishida in the article, Toshiba's Plan for Life After HD DVD. Kane spoke with Nishida-san at his office in Japan and discussed the decision to quit the effort on HD DVD, in addition to other items.
Toshiba Corp. President Atsutoshi Nishida (L) and Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates discuss the expansion of their companies' relationship at a news conference, Tokyo, June 27, 2005.
"In February, after a long, expensive battle with Blu-ray over the format for next-generation DVD players, Toshiba Corp. Chief Executive Atsutoshi Nishida pulled the plug on the company's HD DVD business. The move surprised analysts. Japanese companies tend to look for acceptable compromises to save corporate pride, and the analysts had expected Toshiba to phase out the format quietly.
"The defeat is a blow to Toshiba, a vast electronics conglomerate that makes semiconductors, appliances and nuclear reactors. The company saw HD DVD as a way to increase its presence in consumer electronics, where it is a relatively small player.
WSJ: Your practical approach to management is unusual in Japan. How do you make it work in this country?
Mr. Nishida: I don't operate just on logic. I'm practical, but I also have enthusiasm, which is the side of me that's not practical. If you have that in addition to a strong will to achieve your goals, then you can overcome any adversity. For example, I used logic to rationally make the decision to quit HD DVD, but my enthusiasm allows me to move forward.
WSJ: How do spend your free time?
Mr. Nishida: My hobby is reading. I usually read six to seven books simultaneously on subjects like politics, economy, management, history and science in addition to novels. Two or three of them are usually in English. I just finished reading "The Future of Management." Right now, I'm reading Lawrence Lindsey's "What a President Should Know" and "Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls." [I added the links]
I have found that Nishida-san to be a very smart and thoughtful man. Based on this recommendation, I will check out Lindsey's "What a President Should Know."
If you haven't read the latter (Judgment, by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis) be sure to check it out. I agree with Robert Morris -- who wrote a review on Amazon -- that the authors provide "a brilliant explanation of how winning leaders make great calls and suggest that the greatest among them also help others to do so."