TJ: Can you tell us about your consulting career?
MORI: I joined Arthur Andersen & Co. in 1969 as a CPA certified auditor and transferred to the consulting division after two years. The name of the consulting division was changed to Andersen Consulting and then Accenture. I worked there for 42 years as a business consultant. I was Japan CEO as well as a member of the global board and executive committee for 13 years.
TJ: Who were your first clients?
MORI: In the early years, the consulting business was not accepted in Japan, so most of my clients were international clients. The first client was an American cosmetic company. I designed and installed a manual accounting system for them that reduced the number of book closing days by half, and also reduced the accounting division’s overtime work by 80%. This was before computers were available for accounting work.
TJ: What have been your most challenging and successful projects? Why?
MORI: I was a project leader for the design and installation of a huge integrated production planning and control system at Yamaha Motor Co. There were more than 150 full-time staff involved in the project for over five years. New computer technologies such as database and online systems were imported from the U.S. and applied to Japanese Just in Time (Toyota Kanban system) plant operations. The project was a huge success as it reduced long manufacturing lead times and total inventory in the pipeline. The system was then exported back to the U.S. as a Japanese production system and applied to many U.S. and European manufacturing companies such as Harley Davidson and Caterpillar.
TJ: What kind of knowledge, skills or experience do management consultants need?
MORI: A consultant must be a leader and make an impact on changing the way companies do business. I believe a T-shape of knowledge, skills and experience is required. The horizontal line consists of broad business acumen such as leadership, communication and business fundamentals. The vertical line is a column of deep and outstanding professional qualifications and experience in sectors such as finance, marketing, technology and operations, which should be attractive in the market.
TJ: Are there common mistakes that new consultants make?
MORI: Some young consultants who graduate from prestigious business schools believe they are much smarter than their clients, and tend to propose big changes that are difficult to implement and have low business benefit–high risk but low return.
TJ: Are there certain kinds of companies that need management consulting more than others?
MORI: Yes, high growth companies where the speed of growth is much higher than the speed of acquiring high quality human resources. Also, companies whose top management needs to leverage their capabilities to accelerate changes–high speed changes. Other circumstances where a management consultant would be needed are when independent and objective opinions are sought, and where particular skills and experiences are not available in-house.
TJ: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in management consulting?
MORI: There are certain qualities that a management consultant must possess. For example, they need to be skilled communicators, recognize and step up to opportunities, be creative and entrepreneurial, and understand that although it can have high returns, it is a high risk career.
TJ: What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
MORI: Always think and talk straight; observe and listen by going to the genba and witnessing the actual factory or sales floor, or the place where the business is happening; and always think big. Think globally. tj
The original article can be found in Issue #276 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.