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Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa on what he learned from Yamauchi, Iwata, and Kimishima, discusses his leadership approach

Leading the way

Shuntaro Furukawa has been steering the good ship Nintendo for awhile now, and he seems to be doing quite a great job. There's no doubt he's doing some things his own way, but he's also carving that path by remembering the leadership tips he received from former top brass.

In an interview with Nikkei, Mr. Furukawa talks about what he learned from Nintendo's previous leaders, and how he uses that going forward. Check out the translation of his comments below, courtesy of NintendoEverything.

Regrettably, I never spoke directly with Mr. Yamauchi. However, I’ve heard all about Yamauchi’s philosophy from Iwata and his successor Mr. Kimishima. At management policy briefings, I say “Entertainment is valuable because it’s different to other things [we do in life]”, but these are Yamauchi’s words. He laid out a universal way of thinking for us which is the foundation of the current Nintendo.

Mr. Iwata took over that and left a lot of people in the company who could take initiative and think for themselves. I had many opportunities to work with Mr. Iwata when I was assigned overseas and learned a lot by consulting with him and getting guidance from abroad.

I learnt all sorts of things from Mr. Iwata, but it’s best I refrain from mentioning specifics. He didn’t like the fact there are people still at Nintendo who say “I learned this from Mr. Iwata.” We’re confident that Iwata himself wouldn’t approve of that, so that’s why we keep that close to our hearts.

Mr. Iwata’s successor, Mr. Kimishima, took over as president in the emergency state following Iwata’s sudden death. He worked on changing the way the company works so that it can be run without Iwata’s charisma. My plan is to proceed down that route.

We are still taking through the group leadership that we introduced after Mr. Yamauchi retired. There are both hardware developers and software developers in the management team, so I don’t do development at all. I simply enjoy the games and leave it to the people in charge to judge whether it’s good or bad.

The core principles behind our finances are to ensure the company continues. I’ve been in the game console business for over 30 years, and with good times also comes the bad. As the times change, our management will make level-headed decisions, changing what needs to be changed in the company.

Categories: Interviews

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We can't ask them to be somebody they're not. If they don't want to be the "face" of Nintendo, they have all the rights to not put themselves in the spotlight outside what is necessary. They already have it difficult when everybody wants to compare them to their predecessors. If Furukawa adopted Iwata's publicity MO and Doug adopted Reggie's publicity MO, we'd see they'd be forever stuck in Iwata and Reggie's shadows respectively.

"Mr. Iwata’s successor, Mr. Kimishima, took over as president in the emergency state following Iwata’s sudden death. He worked on changing the way the company works so that it can be run without Iwata’s charisma. My plan is to proceed down that route."

He's doing a good job at having no charisma. Doug Bowser is the same. As RMC called him, he's a wet fart. 😉 They lack the personality of their predecessors.

We can't ask them to be somebody they're not. If they don't want to be the "face" of Nintendo, they have all the rights to not put themselves in the spotlight outside what is necessary. They already have it difficult when everybody wants to compare them to their predecessors. If Furukawa adopted Iwata's publicity MO and Doug adopted Reggie's publicity MO, we'd see they'd be forever stuck in Iwata and Reggie's shadows respectively.

I'm not asking them to be something they're not. Show some personality though, they don’t have to be carbon copies of their predecessors. I wouldn't expect nor want that. Doug Bowser is the head of NOA, be the face, sell the brand, other CEO's do. He's been in one drab video with Bowser, that’s it. There's very few public faces of Nintendo, even less so English speaking.

I'd be more suspicious if the next CEO was a personality friendly character. People liked Iwata because of his actions and that he was genuine, it was more than just being in the Nintendo directs. Sure being on screen all the time will get people to like/ grow familiar with you but that's an exploitable method of gaining approval.

The key is for Nintendo to be successful because of the culture of the company -- not because of charisma of any particular person. Having over-sized personalities like Iwata or Reggie is great for fans -- but it does not help sell systems that do not meet the needs of the market (the $250 3DS, the WiiU). Meanwhile,. the products with that "it" factor sell themselves (the Wii, the $170 3DS, the Switch). So the key is the product, not the person.

I agree. Although likable, Iwata and Reggie were at the helm during some of my least favorite Nintendo years. The product and the people were two different things.

There were certainly some mixed results during those times. Of course, some of it was outside of their control. The N64 sticking to cartridges forced Nintendo into a catch-up mode, especially after the falling out with proposed partner Sony created a competitor.

Not to burst anyone's bubble, but even though I understand they need to have different personalities, I feel like their personalities have certainly impacted the company. I mean, I wasn't excited about anything from Kimishima's Nintendo and I certainly haven't been excited about Furukawa's Nintendo so far as much as I was with Iwata's Nintendo.

Agreed 100% Switch era is VERY hit and miss for me in regards to 1st party content. If it aint an overabundance of ports and remakes its rushed software to market lacking content only to be added later (ARMS, Kirby Star Allies, New Horizons, etc.). Not to mention the lack ot classic Nintendo IP outside of the same 6 or so year after year on repeat.

Nintendo is much more hard dollar driven I mean its understandable they are a business and apparently most people are enjoying the Switch they are clearly doing something right but the Switch lacks that Nintendo magic and imagination IMO.

As the times change, our management will make level-headed decisions, changing what needs to be changed in the company.

This makes me think a lot. Or the after Iwataian era has in general has gotten me thinking a lot. Will they be so experimental as in the Iwatian era? Will they slowly get back into the ower race to please third parties and get their games? Will they to an iPhone with the Switch and just go that way? Or just be Nintendo and surprise us over and over?

I’m so happy he turned out to be a good president who respects Nintendo’s legacy and way of doing things. I was nervous as hell when Iwata passed away after seeing so many companies fall to new awful leadership. Would be tragic if it ever happens to Nintendo.

socar
Sun Feb 28 21 11:11pm
Rating: 1

Good thing that he's letting developers decide on the software. He's so far a fine president from what he says.

And he's being humble too. Smile

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