The executive meeting went fairly well. The executive director was friendly and open-minded. There were several questions that Mikio was able to answer. The executive director's final comment was "Carefully proceed." The financial figures of the company's partner candidate were not so good. After the meeting, Mikio returned to his office. For the next three months, he worked non-stop on the project, his life work. Mikio needed to travel back and forth between the U.S. and Japan for face-to-face meetings. Management from the partner company also visited his company. Finally, the joint venture company was 90% complete, or at least Mikio thought so.
It was Monday afternoon when Mikio received a phone call from the main manager of his partner company, telling him that it had received a hostile takeover from its competition. He received details in an e-mail from his counterpart one hour later. The party offering the tender bid was a fierce competitor of his company. It did not make sense to proceed further in the formation of the joint venture. Mikio and his team reluctantly stopped their project.
Mikio needed to finish an unpleasant task, which was explaining the result to the executive who had approved the project. He visited the executive floor once again to report the result of the project. However, the director was neither friendly nor open-minded this time. After his explanation, the managing director made an incredible statement. He said, "That was why I told you not to do it." Mikio could not believe his ears. Was this not the same person who had said to proceed carefully? However, he did not raise this question with the director. Later, he talked to his boss about the statement. His boss told him that the statement "carefully proceed" was tricky and could be interpreted as either yes or no. The boss also told Mikio that he had learned a valuable lesson, but Mikio did not think so. Several years later, he resigned from this company and started his own.
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