Recently, I have experienced two executive sessions, one in London for top Global company of one major business sector on its global strategy; the company just underwent successfully a merger acquisition.
The member was extraordinary in that of its total 10 members from 10 countries (one woman), many have held very high positions for the government or administrative arms, eg, Minister, Supreme Court judge, Congress member, of their country and the region (eg, EU). They include, for example, Pat Cox, Chair of our panel, President of the EU Parliament (2002-04), and Chuck Hagel, Republican Senator for 12 years until this January. After some conversation with Mr Hagel, I firmly felt he is a very thoughtful and good politician gentleman. He is well known as the most outspoken critic of President Bush’s policy to Iran. I knew he assumed Chairman of the Atlantic Council, a powerful ‘Think-tank’ based in Washington DC, as I reported earlier this year. He told me that he was just invited by President Obama to Co-Chair the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, a very good news, indeed.
Pat Cox’s chairmanship of our session was outstanding, being very smooth and affirmative, and managing the entire meeting session with presentations by the corporate leadership followed by various questions and suggestions, taking notes even on seating and each members and corporate officers. I always feel privileged when I get to know peoples with such distinguished career through discussions and private conversation. I cold learn so much from them. Incidentally, a half of the corporate representation was women including its chair.
Upon return to Tokyo, I was in another executive session for one of global brand company of Japan whose sales in Japan accounts for about 25% of total annual revenue. The team headed by its CEO worked hard and developed issues for us to discuss. I enjoy the session very much with unusually lively questions and debates. This is because our members are pretty much out-of-box type individuals, for example, Natsuno-san (Ret.1) who invented iMode. It is amazing to see only one woman among total of about 15 members from the corporate side, not to mention none in its executive level.
The ideas of this company, in my view, are somehow derived from and targeted to men-thinking. Thus, one of my questions has been the fact that daily and major decisions for purchases are made by women as described in ‘The Real Emerging Market’ of my blog posting with a photo of the cover of Newsweek and in a more recent special report in Time (US version), Oct 26th, 2009, ‘What Women Want Now’ (Ref.1). Mind you, the products may be targeted primarily to men, but the decisions to buy are made by women more often than one may imagine.
This gender issue is everywhere of Japanese society which needs a fix fast, which could serve as ‘Change Agent‘ of Japanese society and economy as I repeatedly insist in this website and recently in my interview in Japan Times.
Another thought occurred to me in these two sessions was the impression that somehow these high ranking officials in both companies may not have much of sense of what may be happening in this rapidly flattening world, ie, ‘Open and Demand-driven Innovation.’ This is becoming a very important core perception of every business sector in the global world.