Kotoku Wamura

Everyone talks about heroic Leaders…but what about heroic Managers.

My first candidate for the Manager Medal of Honour would be Kotoku Wamura.

“The 3,000 residents living between mountains behind a cove owe their lives to a late leader who saw the devastation of an earlier tsunami and made it the priority of his four-decade tenure to defend his people from the next one. His 51-foot floodgate between mountainsides took a dozen years to build and meant spending more than $30 million in today’s dollars.

‘It cost a lot of money. But without it, Fudai would have disappeared,’ said seaweed fisherman Satoshi Kaneko, 55, whose business has been ruined but who is happy to have his family and home intact. The gate project was criticized as wasteful in the 1970s. But the gate and an equally high seawall behind the community’s adjacent fishing port protected Fudai from the waves that obliterated so many other towns. Two months after the disaster, more than 25,000 are missing or dead.”

In my model of Managers minimising downside it is not all tiresome protocols and tedious protections. Great Managers take decisions, bets and actions just as bold as any Leaders. It’s just that their objective is to minimise downside, not reach for some upside. In the ledger sheet of profit and loss both have equal impact on the bottom line. In the case of Fudai, the impact is immeasurable.

Fudai floodgate