Teams Beat KingsI was in Fukuoka the other week speaking with Hashimoto of NuLab, and he explained a perfect metaphor for the transition that is happening among new startups in Japan.

Traditionally, Japanese companies have been run as little kingdoms. The president is the king. If you disagree with the king’s judgment, he will graciously allow you to leave the kingdom, quietly. Newer, and more successful, startups are being run by teams. The final decision is not the result of one man’s opinion, but the blending of the different perspectives of different people with different skills. Good ideas should bubble up. The top-down, tyrannical model seems quite odd to many young Japanese.

Whether these young founders and companies can maintain this dynamic as they age remains to be seen, but I am optimistic. In nearly all of the Disrupting Japan interviews I do, founders talk about the critical importance of the “founding team” rather than “the founder.” That was not the case 20 years ago.

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