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The Olympus Story of Culture & Corruption

There are umpteen reasons why you must read Michael Woodford's book, 'Exposure - Inside the Olympus Scandal: How I went from CEO to Whistleblower', but let me list the prime ones.

Michael's book is as much about the rot at Olympus, as it is about why it happened. Knowing the latter is what takes you on a subtle journey into Japanese culture. What you get to know can be disturbing, though as an Indian I guess I'm pretty well versed with culture dictated silence and obedience. As an academic I can tell you, I found the exercise of understanding a culture via a business story fascinating. Moreover, there wasn't a single time I felt like putting the book down.

Michael's book is also a must read for it documents the struggle of a man who has everything to lose by going against the establishment. Real courage requires that sacrifices be made. Some sacrifices can almost bring down everything you've built, and lived for. Michael does what he does, spurred by the love he has for his company, and that's truly admirable.

In a telling way, Michael's Olympus story reinforces why businesses exist. To create value for consumers, and wealth for investors. Such value and wealth creation in turn puts paychecks into the hands of those that come willfully together to participate in the process. Michael's story exhorts us to stand up and fight those that erode a firm by chipping away at its value and eating into its wealth.

Here's hoping there are more Michaels who stand up!

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