April 19, 2016,09:00 +0900(JST) Message to Our Managers
From January to March every year, I visit some of our branch offices and affiliates located in different parts of Japan, and also take the opportunity to participate in seminars, in order to speak to our managers about the appropriate attitude to their work.
I always speak about very similar topics every year, such as the Sumitomo Spirit, thorough implementation of SEQCDD* improvement, communication, leadership, and human resources development, but it is difficult to ensure that my message gets through. I hear that one top manager said that a message will finally begin to get through only after it has been delivered about 20 times. I totally agree with this assertion. On top of that, the moment that listeners feel "This is the same old story again...," the message will begin to slip out of their minds.
This year, I referred to the congratulatory address given by Dr. Kotaro Honda (1870-1954) of Tohoku Imperial University in 1939 at a factory completion ceremony of a company. Dr. Honda was the world-leading authority in the fields of metallurgy and material properties. He was also the inventor of KS steel, a steel whose name bears the initials of Kichizaemon Sumitomo (the 15th head of the family business), and thus was deeply connected with the Sumitomo Group.
In his speech draft, which remains today, he made the following assertion: "In the field of industry, no matter how skillful you are, you can never make truly excellent manufactured goods if you do not have sufficient professional ethics. Only persons of integrity can understand how important their work is in society, and realize the gravity of their responsibilities. Only after working faithfully whether or not anyone is watching, can you make excellent products at low cost."
Although it has been more than 70 years since this congratulatory address was delivered, this is a universal message from which even today's workers can learn a lot, and thus I introduced it to our managers.
* SEQCDD: Safety, Environment, Quality, Cost, Delivery, and Research and Development