A recent piece by Des Collins, ,brought back memories of my own struggles to fit into a traditional Japanese work culture. In his article, Des talks about the importance Japanese managers place on deference to authority and their tendency to wear suffering as a badge of honor.
I had the challenge and privilege of running Sales and Marketing for Nintendo of America from 2007-2010. I entered as an experienced senior Marketing leader with big ideas for innovation and expanding the company’s reach among women. Nintendo is a good company and during my tenure I had plenty of success, but early on I could tell that it was not the right cultural fit.
I run an agile organization where team members can experiment without fear. I value transparency with partners and colleagues and encourage open and rigorous debate around new ideas. Most of all, I start from a position of trust – believing that you hire talented people and immediately empower them to do great work. What I observed in my time at Nintendo was a very cautious approach to building relationships. There was a system of rigorous checks and balances that reduced the chance of a bad decision, but seemed painfully slow compared to the nimble Silicon Valley culture I enjoyed.
I hung in at Nintendo for three years. I had good friends at work and the company made amazing products. It’s hard to leave a job that's not right but not terrible, especially one that looks great on your resume. But hanging in there when you don't really fit extracts a price. Day by day you begin to lose your passion. Eventually you give up a little bit of your soul.
I hope the Financial Times employees can assess the cultural changes that are likely to come their way and make courageous decisions. For some courage might look like adapting to a new way of doing things. For others, it may be about moving on to their next opportunity. I hope all will see the change as a chance to grow and find the conditions that enable them to thrive.
Have you ever been misfit? What kept you hanging on?
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