August 31, 2007,09:28 +0900(JST) “SEQCDD’” and Our Quest for Ever Higher Quality (1)

I understand that the corporate strategic factors Q (quality), C (cost), D (delivery) and D’ (development) should be given equal importance in principle. Still, as I look back, I notice that in reality they haven’t been treated equally and that the order of importance of these factors has changed over time: in the beginning there was a period when the order of importance was CDQD’, followed by CQDD’ and then QCDD’ as it is today.

When we think about what’s really important, and knowing that every action is initiated by people, we can say that safety (“S”) is the most important of all, as I wrote in my earlier entry “Safety First.” As proof of this, companies considered “Excellent” tend to place “S” in front of the other factors in their policy these days, in the order of “SQCDD’” or “SQDCD’.” In addition, when external conditions surrounding companies are taken into consideration, the factor “E” (environment) becomes extremely important as well.

In view of the above, I have adopted “SEQCDD’” as our Group’s policy and ask all employees’ cooperation in improving the quality of our work relating to each of these factors. Accordingly, we’ve been running a corporate-wide, all-participatory campaign to carry out concrete measures (organization, goal-setting, tracking methods, time management, incentives, standardization of definitions of terms, etc.) and to reinforce a sense of involvement.

The campaign is gradually bearing fruit, although not yet to the extent that full satisfaction is achieved. We’re all determined to continue moving forward, making steady steps one by one, believing in the power of perseverance.

In the next entry of this series, I’d like to write my ideas about quality.

August 28, 2007,10:33 +0900(JST) Position Obligation

Have you ever heard the term “Position Obligation”? Probably not, because that’s a term I coined myself. Today I’d like to talk about it briefly.

A corporate director usually has some basic rules to follow when making managerial decisions and confirming matters of importance; otherwise, he or she will be required to account for irregularities. This is the least that corporate directors must ensure, yet they’re not good enough for the job if that’s all they do.

Business managers must also think about enhancing corporate value, by contemplating well a range of related factors, making decisions, planning and taking actions accordingly, and then accounting for the results. This is what I call “Position Obligation.”

Even when a decision-making process is faultless and all managerial actions are taken in accordance with the basic rules, if a major loss is incurred as a result, the manager him- or her-self must take responsibility for it. So I’m aware that managers are constantly burdened with the responsibility for potential losses. At the same time, I find certain beauty in the way corporate leaders’ work, face to face with this heavy responsibility, running their business in all sincerity and fairness.

This applies not only to top managers but to all who carry out their duties in their respective positions. Doing their very best using all the resources available at the moment is the natural duty expected of all employees; in other words, they do have their Position Obligation. Needless to say, they will be called to account for the results of their actions.

I’m perfectly certain that this way of thinking is totally natural for many people. In reality, however, in the face of intricate factors, it’s not always easy to put into action, making precise decisions and clarifying the sphere of responsibility. In any case, for those engaged in management, it is essential to keep in mind the basic rules at all times, and I’m writing this also to remind myself …

August 23, 2007,09:32 +0900(JST) A stay in temple lodging on Mt. Koya

Dear blog readers, did you have nice summer holidays? Even in mid summer, Japan can have largely varied weather conditions depending on where you are, because of the Archipelago’s shape, stretching long from north to south, and also depending on the day. Still, about this summer we can say nothing but that it’s been scorchingly hot. On August 16, the country set a new record high atmospheric temperature for the first time in 74 years, at 40.9 degrees Celsius, in Kumagaya City, Saitama Prefecture and Tajimi City, Gifu Prefecture. We can’t simply attribute this to abnormal climatic change, but we can say it’s been an extraordinarily hot summer.

As for my summer holidays, I went to stay on Mt. Koya with my family. Many should already know where Mt. Koya is, since it is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site: it is in the northeastern part of Wakayama Prefecture, some 1,000 meters above sea level. Mt. Koya is one of the sacred sites of Japanese Buddhism where the Great Priest Kobo (774-835) opened a monastic center. Kongobu-ji Temple and other sites are located there. My stay in this special place was a truly wonderful experience.

Walking slowly on a long, stone-paved approach to an inner temple, surrounded by rows of giant cedar trees and reflecting on the history engraved on old, moss-covered tomb stones on the temple premises, I almost lost the notion of time as I became totally relaxed and released from the busyness of everyday life.

We stayed in a temple lodging called Henjoko-in, which has a long and distinguished history. The temple itself was founded by the Great Priest Kobo, about 1,200 years ago, as the quasi-head temple of the Buddhist sect he started. Various cultural assets are still found there. During my stay, I took relaxing hot baths to peel away worldly grime and partook of delightful vegetarian meals and had a little bit of “prajna(wisdom) water” -- meaning sake (Japanese rice wine).

Detached from the world down below in this micro-cosmos of freshness and tranquility, for the first time in my life I took part in a daily practice consisting of Buddha image copying and sutra chanting in the morning. This experience enabled me to simply live each moment to its fullest and feel truly grateful for the gift of life.

For this great experience, I can never fully thank Mr. Y, who recommended this temple stay to me. Despite the intense summer heat that still lingers in the Kansai (western Japan) area, I was able to get back to work in great shape, physically and morally refreshed.

August 20, 2007,10:29 +0900(JST) The Track & Field World Championships in Osaka

The IAAF World Championships in Athletics Official Mascot, Traffie
The Track and Field World Championships will soon begin in Osaka. The official name of this event is, I’ve been told, the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics Osaka 2007. In any case, this is going to be the world’s biggest sporting event this year, and it’ll be held in Osaka! I’m impressed by the fact that the event is expected to have participants from 212 countries and areas the world over (larger number than that of the World Swimming Championships, the FIFA World Cup, or even the Athens Olympics). Just thinking that the world’s top-notch athletes will gather together in Osaka for the period of August 25 (Saturday) to September 2 (Sunday) to vie to be the world’s best, I feel very much excited.

As is written in my profile, I used to belong to the track and field club of my university and participated in all-Japan inter-university competitions as a javelin thrower. Even today, I enjoy jogging regularly, and I believe I’m seriously enthusiastic about athletics.

Besides such top-level competitions as the Track and Field World Championships, there are various other events that we as companies and individuals can enjoy and support in our communities, and the Sumitomo Electric Group is determined to continue its social contribution by supporting such events in the future. Still, there’s something very special about high-level international championships in which the world’s best athletes compete. The Sumitomo Electric Group also supports the event in our humble way, and I’d like to express my deep respect for the organizing committee and others concerned for the actual work they are doing in the field in order to make this a successful event.

I understand that the Championships’ venue, Nagai Stadium, is well equipped with the most advanced facilities to accommodate the performances of the world’s top athletes. Its track in particular, improved to make it one of the world’s best high-speed tracks, has been awarded IAAF Class 1 certification. Whether or not new world records are set at Nagai, I very much look forward to the Championships and admirable performances by participating athletes, who will undoubtedly dedicate body and soul to their performances.

What’s a little disappointing is a rumor that advance tickets have not sold very well. I do hope, however, that the Championships, held for the first time in Japan since the Tokyo Championships 16 years ago, will be a great success.

August 10, 2007,13:56 +0900(JST) Summer holidays

Next week, I’m leaving on summer holidays to recharge my batteries. I hope you will all take good care of yourselves and stay well, despite the intense heat in Japan.

SUMITOMO ELECTRIC President CEO Masayoshi Matsumoto

Born in 1944 in Hyogo Prefecture, Masayoshi Matsumoto joined Sumitomo Electric in 1967. After serving as General Manager of Chubu District Office, Managing Director and Senior Managing Director, he assumed office of President and CEO in June 2004.

His leisure activities include jogging, reading and art appreciation. Also a seasoned athlete, he played baseball in junior high school and practiced judo in senior high school. In university, he threw the javelin competitively and participated in all-Japan inter-university competitions.

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