Quick on the draw— Japan


The CEO of Japan’s largest chain of entertainment stores is peculiarly sketchy on management – he never gives orders, positively encourages failure and doesn’t even have his own office – yet he’s particularly successful too.

Japan, entertainment, management, store

Muneaki Masuda isn’t in his seat for more than a few seconds before he fishes a pencil out of a case and starts sketching on a large sheet of paper. He writes “music”, “books” and “movies”, then “lifestyle” and draws lines connecting them. “This is what I’m going to talk about,” he says.

For Masuda, jotting down what’s on his mind is instinctive. He sketches during meetings and while giving speeches. He’s even been known to take notes while behind the wheel of his car. It’s as if Masuda – the founder and president of Culture Convenience Club (CCC…

The rules

01: What time do you like to be at your desk?
I have no desk. I have no office, either. My workplace is wherever information is available. I hold meetings while on the move, in my car.

02: Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership, an MBA school or on the job?
You can’t groom a leader in a classroom or a meeting room. The only way is through actual on-the-ground experience.

03: Describe your management style
I don’t give directions or issue orders. I don’t like to work that way. I don’t think anyone wants to be ordered around. Only you know what makes you happy. That’s why freedom – to decide on your own, to fail –is so important.

04: Are tough decisions best taken by one person?
The role of management is to make decisions. I tend to decide things on the spot. Putting off important decisions is a problem.

05: Do you want to be liked or respected?
A person in this line of work has to be likeable.

06: What does your support team look like?
I prefer staff who are individualistic.

07: What technology do you carry on a trip?
iPad 2, iPhone, laptop. But a sketchpad and pen are more important for jotting things down.

08: Do you read management books?
I write books. I don’t read them. [Masuda has written five books.]

09: Run in the morning? Wine with lunch? Socialise with your team after work?
I hold meetings at lunchtime. I run in the evenings. Nights are my most important business hours. My real work starts after I leave the company offices. It’s when I meet with business partners. I also socialise with employees at barbecue parties or at my vacation home in Karuizawa.

10: What would your key management advice be?
Don’t listen to what customers tell you. Instead think about how to work in the interests of customers.


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