I had never really paid much attention to Sega or it’s chairman/CEO/founder Isao Okawa. That is until Sega made the announcement to end the manufacturing of it’s Dreamcast game console and generate a huge loss after years in the red.

At first, I thought no big deal, just another failure, until then I read a story on the front page of The Nihon Keizai Shinbun on February 1st, 2001 about the actions Mr. Okawa has taken in response to this situation.

But, let’s take a minute to think about the average large multinational corporation that would find itself with a main product that didn’t quit meet expectations and got beat up by it’s competitors. It would have a drop in stock price and lots of red ink. And the average response from management to these events would be cutbacks, closures, and pink slips, etc, etc.

However, what was Mr. Isao Okawa’s response to this situation? You might think he would opt for the average route taken by most leaders and let the heads roll or maybe even go out and commit seppuku. But, instead he took full responsibility for his and his staffs mistakes and donated over 85 billion yen (around US$730 million) of his own money to support his beloved company, employees, and customers. Of course there will be changes in the company, but he believes in the talent of his people and is sticking with them, by putting his money where his mouth is.

Makes me remember when I talked to a respected acquaintance of mine from another gigantic multinational corporation about the demise of Yamaichi Securities, a well known securities firm whose bankruptcy shocked everyone. He pointed out the fact that the mega-rich president and top staff of Yamaichi took responsibility for their mistakes, but let the company fail and put a lot of people out of work and on the streets in the middle of a recession. He noted, if they really took responsibility for their mistakes, they would have paid with their wallets and not with their lip service.

That is why I think Mr. Isao Okawa is an honorable man. More “leaders” of the business world should follow his example and go out on a limb for their people IF they truly mean what they say.

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