Panasonic is not about any ordinary restructuring. It is about a company of $72 billion in sales, employing 293,000 people around the world, the tenth largest industrial company not in oil or autos, whose thousands of products are so universally used that it may have more customers than any firm in history. Panasonic is so big that it is one of the few companies which has a product in just about every home and business in the developed world, has operations in almost every country in the world, and has a vast scope of markets--making everything from flat panel TVs to car audio and satellite navigation systems, even entire building systems and home interiors. Panasonic’s breadth and size combined made reorganizing the company incomparably more difficult than even the task that faced IBM’s incoming CEO in 1992.
Panasonic delves into how this great eleven-year restructuring (1995-2006) was accomplished without importing an outside CEO like Lou Gerstner. Panasonic was able to reorder a complex and tradition-bound organization in a country that is often thought, mistakenly, to deeply resist radical change, thus demonstrating how Japanese companies continue to adapt to the competitive forces roiling the markets around them.