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TOV Forums > Today's Reading Links > > Re: Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company

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nightflow
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Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company    (Score: 1, Normal) 04-21-2012 12:33
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http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2012/04/20/sayonara-sony-how-industrial-mba-style-leadership-killed-once-great-company/

Hi, I read this article and thought of parallels to Honda; the focus on manufacturing efficiency and industrialization and its consequence to product innovation. The analysis is interesting and food for thought from a business mgmt perspective. Thoughts?
Jovian8
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Re: Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company    (Score: 1, Normal) 04-21-2012 12:47
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Excellent link nightflow. I had mentioned the Sony/Honda parallels in another thread... and this is a good analysis & very interesting.

I miss Sony too! Honda please come back! ;-)

btw... I saw a bright red last-gen Prelude for sale driving home last night. Geez it looked good... and impulse reigned just for a minute.
auto_enthu
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Re: Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company    (Score: 1, Normal) 04-21-2012 17:38
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Nice article.

Although not exactly similar, it reminds me of what happened to Apple after Steve Jobs left Apple.

When Steve Jobs return to Apple in late 90s, he did exactly what the company was missing - focus on product development and make it the number 1 focus area - and we know the rest of the story.

Just like Sony, I'm sure Apple also has a lot of focus on manufacturing, but the difference is that Apple never lost focus on product development since late 90s, which Sony clearly lost focus on.


bigblue
Profile for bigblue
Re: Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company    (Score: 1, Normal) 04-22-2012 02:42
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I love Sony too, most Honda fans would be Sony fans too I think :-).

This bit of the article "Sony didnít sell the Blu-Ray software technology in hopes people would use it. Instead it kept Blu-Ray proprietary so only Sony could make and sell Blu-Ray products (hardware)" is just wrong ! Kaz Hirai was a major figure in the Playstation group, though I don't know what his role there encompassed, i.e. whether he had a lot of say on the hardware. The hardware was really adventurous in an engineering sense, (for PS3 - bespoke Cell processor, blu-ray drive etc). Oh, by the way, they also have a big push on picture quality for their TVs in the next year, so maybe there are a few signs of the old Sony returning (wishful thinking !).

Obviously Sony has lost its way a bit since the days of Morita and Ibuka (but still capable of sneaking out the odd amazing product), but this article isn't particularly insightful in my opinion.
Powered by Honda
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Re: Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company    (Score: 1, Normal) 04-23-2012 17:55
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Hopefully Sony can get back on track one day. I will buy PS4 if that helps... lol
CarPhreakD
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Re: Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company    (Score: 1, Normal) 04-23-2012 20:05
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Sony isn't without its recent hits. They do, however, need to cut out crap and focus on fewer, more key products. The problem is that they are dabbling in too many areas with too many subpar or "non special" products. Why is it that you can find 3-4 variations of the exact same camera in the Alpha lineup?
TonyEX
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Re: Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company    (Score: 1, Normal) 04-23-2012 20:59
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Well.. the article is sort of light on facts. It posits just one aspect of what is a much more complex story.

Sony is getting shellacked due to several factors.

(1) Consumer Electronics have morphed greatly in the last 20 years. Whereas years ago standards were slow moving and products had a long shelf life, most electronics today have real short life cycles and unless are programmable, they are obsolete the day you buy them - with the notable exception of audio speakers and audio amplifiers.

This means that the market has forked.. Either you are in the High End or you are nowhere. And, by High End, I don't mean cost.. Emotiva and Zu Speakers (*) are fine examples of outfits that are High End but do not have high prices. The trick is that High End is also low volume, and a company like Sony needs volume. Sony ES is no longer High End.. it has become a low priced commodity (do they even make Sony ES anymore??).

(2) Sony also fundamentally wounded itself when it moved into the content producing arena... Whereas before it provided products that consumers wanted, and fought lawsuits over copyrights, once Sony bought interests in Hollywood it found itself no longer being able to ignore the interests of the Movie/Television/Music industries.

With this new restriction, Sony stopped making products that consumers wanted and instead started to sell products that Hollywood wanted... Hence Sony was late with MP3, hobbled the design of SACD and DVD-A so that they died, released CDs with root kits (don't laugh, I had to take one of those bastard out of my son's PC), hobbled Blue Ray... etc, etc...

While everyone was moving toward ripping their CDs into their computers Sony kept selling huge CD jukeboxes that would hold 300 CDs each and that could be daisy chained... Huh? Talk about technology no one wanted. I mean, it only served the interests of the Music Industry.. not consumers, not audiophiles.

Then we had the DVD jukeboxes... right! After we all started to rip our DVDs into our PCs (what? Is it illegal? To back up my OWN DVD? Thank You -NOT- Sony...)

(3) Sony also started focusing too much on the ROI. They dropped technology like LCOS from their rear projectors because they were low ROI items.. even though they were much better that TI's technology. In the past, Sony never did this.. they came out with stuff like the ElCaset, Mini disk.. stuff that was so way out there that it was definitely a losing proposition, but that worked so well that everyone was amazed at what they could and would do.

They took risks. The Trinitron tube.. I mean, that was amazing and it cost them a bundle but long term that made the company... The cassette Walkman, the CD Walkman,

Today? They are just followers, they won't spend money. Their products are simply not something that consumers really want.

(4) Something else that has also always hurt them is an attitude to NIH. Sony tends to stick with its own closed solutions.. the Beta was the clearest example. When they combined with someone else, like Phillips, they did wonderful stuff like the Red Book CD -but still made lots of bucks from royalties. Years later, however, saddled with their Hollywood Business they crippled SACD from Day One. Blue Ray is another fiasco, so fraught with copyright limits that works AGAINST consumers.

So, there are a number of reasons why Sony is where it's at today, but they are not necessarily due to a management geared towards industrialization and production.

I really don't see many parallels between HMC and Sony.

Except that at one point both had solid pricing power. Sony's products are quickly becoming a commodity.

Goodbye Sony XBR, goodbye Sony ES.

(*) See www.6moons.com for an example of how Sony is getting its lunch eaten...

Frogger
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Re: Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company    (Score: 1, Normal) 04-23-2012 22:24
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Some might say... if Honda only realizes what it is doing, it can changes it's ways, refocus on products and engineering and regain it's edge. One problem with the thinking is that often the folks who push the bean-counting benefit from it even though the company does not... they don't care if the ship goes down, so long as they can get some gold off it before it sinks. Apple will have it's time, because any tree with fruit will eventually be stripped of it, and folks will be left wondering what happened long after the vultures have flown.
JeffX
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Re: Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company    (Score: 1, Normal) 04-23-2012 22:51
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nightflow wrote:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2012/04/20/sayonara-sony-how-industrial-mba-style-leadership-killed-once-great-company/

Hi, I read this article and thought of parallels to Honda; the focus on manufacturing efficiency and industrialization and its consequence to product innovation. The analysis is interesting and food for thought from a business mgmt perspective. Thoughts?



What's interesting is that I started off as a huge Sony fan back when I got interested in electronics. The reason for that was that at the time I felt that they offered the best engineered products for the money. The engineering was top notch and so was the quality, so I didn't mind paying a premium for Sony products. I bought a lot of Sony stuff over the years but I started noticing in the late '90s and early '00s that they were really cheaping out and basically raping their brand image and their customers. Not to mention all the proprietary crap they developed in defiance of global standards, in hopes of keeping everybody in the Sony "ecosystem" (I hate Sony and Apple for this nearly equally).

They (much like Honda) knew they had cultivated a strong "return business" market, and then they took advantage of that and only focused on profits. If anything, these manufacturers need to figure out that loyal consumers ain't dumb and they sure as hell don't want to feel STRAPPED to the brand.


Last edited by JeffX on 04-23-2012 22:57
JMU R1
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Re: Sayonara Sony: How Industrial, MBA-Style Leadership Killed a Once Great Company    (Score: 1, Normal) 04-24-2012 09:17
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Yeah I think Sony has always had something of a hard-on for proprietary media formats and has waged multiple unsuccessful format wars over the last 30 years to that end. Sony finally won a format war with Blu Ray, but the cost was enormous. I have no doubt that if Sony hadn't used the PS3 to win the HD DVD format wars, they could've offered it at a much cheaper price, and could've beaten the Xbox 360.

I think one of the major sources of Sony's problems is the media businesses they purchased. When Sony started buying into music and movies all of a sudden they had a major incentive not to develop devices that could contribute to the destruction of the old media business models. This is why a lot of Sony's consumer electronics came with draconian DRM or simply didn't have the amount of functionality that it could had Sony really taken the gloves off.

When you think about it, the iPod should've been Sony's creation. They should've been the ones to create a blockbuster personal music player. Instead they came out with a parade of underwhelming media players that were neutered to please the media factions within Sony.

Now instead of a position of leadership in electronics Sony is largely a commodity electronics manufacturer. They've been late to the party on so many emerging trends and haven't shown the slightest hint of being able to catch up. Samsung by comparison is doing very well in smartphones, has some strong tablet offerings, is a market leader in lcd and led displays, and is making inroads into other products.

In a way Samsung is to Sony as Hyundai is to Honda. Luckily Honda is still far and away more innovative and talented than Hyundai but Hyundai is still coming on strong just the same. Honda can't afford to sit back and be conservative while the competition is swinging for the fences.
 
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