Just got out of a meeting of the Association of Corporate Executives or the Keizaidoyukai where I am a secretariat member and was the youngest member when I joined. The Keizaidoyukai is one of the two most powerful economic associations in Japan. The other one is the Japan Business Federation or the Keidanren. The Keidanren is the federation of all of the big companies, the members representing their companies. The Keizaidoyukai represents individual corporate executives. The Keidanren is more powerful, but the Keizaidoyukai has played a very important role in the past in pushing for reform. The Keizaidoyukai was founded after the war by a group of visionary business leaders in their 30's to rebuild Japan. It has grown into a large organization with over a thousand members and an average age of 66 years old.
Tony Kobayashi, the chairman of Fuji-Xerox is the chairman, but his term will end next month and is most likely going to be succeeded by Kakutaro Kitashiro, the chairman of IBM Japan. I'm a big fan of Tony Kobayashi and Mr. Kitashiro is someone I greatly respect. I should be overjoyed that Mr. Kitashiro is taking over the Keizaidoyukai but today we had a meeting with him and I was quite negative. I felt a bit bad, but I told the group that I was considering resigning because I was frustrated with the lack of measurable results from our meetings and that I thought it was difficult to try to gain the support of younger members when most of the people in the association were basically retired and had a lot of time to talk and not act. We all talked about how we needed to reform the Keizaidoyukai if it was going to be an agent of change in Japan.
I walked away feeling like I should give Mr. Kitashiro a chance to change the Keizaidoyukai, but with a feeling that it would be difficult. I can barely stand the tedious task of trying to convince the senior Japanese business executives. I can't image the really young leaders wanting to spend their time in these meetings. It's really a pity considering the strong philosophical foundations upon which the association was founded, but as with anything, age and power bring a variety of issues and it is losing its edge…
PS I resigned from the New Business Conference per my promise that I made here.