THE FOUNDATION OF THE KYOCERA PHILOSOPHY IS “WHAT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO AS A HUMAN BEING?”
When I was with Shofu Industries, I used to jot down my thoughts on the essence of work in the margins of my research notebook whenever I had an insight. Later, when I started managing Kyocera, I also carried a notebook that recorded important concepts, and I continued to add more insights as they came to me, little by little. These became the foundations of my management philosophy and the “Kyocera Philosophy.”
The root of the Kyocera Philosophy is “What is the right thing to do as a human being?” and to pursue that attitude. Thus, Kyocera Philosophy is built on the most basic of human ethics and morals.
ALIGN VECTORS WITH EMPLOYEES
Not only did I practice the Kyocera Philosophy myself, but I also did my best to convince my employees of its value. There were complaints from employees that they were free to have any thoughts or philosophy that they chose. However, in order to fully realize employee happiness, it is necessary to have a standard idea as an organization: “We’ll manage the company with this kind of philosophy,” when you set high goals to achieve.
All employees then must set their vectors based on this shared thought.
ESTABLISH NORMATIVE GUIDELINES AND RULES FOR MANAGING THE COMPANY
The Kyocera Philosophy consists of three elements. The first element is that there are normative guidelines and rules that should become the management model. There are many companies in the world that have no clear standards, rules, or guidelines to follow. That is why many company scandals are taking place nowadays in many countries. Especially at big companies, nobody asks their employees, “What is the right thing to do as a human being?”
However, my management philosophy is the answer to the question, “What is right as a human being?” and it is based on the most fundamental ethics and morals I learned from my parents and teachers in childhood, such as “be honest,” “don’t deceive,” and “don’t tell a lie.” I have never made a mistake steering the management for over half a century since the company was established because Kyocera has followed this standard.
SHOW THE PURPOSE AND MISSION OF THE COMPANY CLEARLY
Second, the Kyocera Philosophy clearly shows the purpose and mission of the company; in other words, it states what kind of company it will become. In addition, while setting the company’s goal, the philosophy presents what is required and what kind of mindset is needed in order to become the company that we desire to be.
Kyocera aimed to be the world’s number 1 ceramics maker at a time when we did not even have 100 employees. It was such a crazy idea for Kyocera—such a fragile company back then—to even aim to be Japan’s No. 1 ceramic maker. However, I kept saying to my employees, “Let’s become the world’s No. 1 company!” At the same time, I thought we must have a very strict lifestyle and have stoic ideals such as “Set high goals,” “Strive harder than anyone else,” “Corner yourself,” and “Live very seriously.”
Just as you need hard training and serious equipment to climb steep mountains, you need appropriate philosophy and methodology to realize the highest goals. Kyocera Philosophy requires a stoic and diligent lifestyle. It is the Kyocera Philosophy that provides the appropriate preparation, equipment, and skills needed to climb such high mountains as the ones Kyocera chooses to climb.
GIVE A COMPANY CHARACTER or PERSONALITY
Third, Kyocera Philosophy compiles ideas and methods to give a company a wonderful personality. Just like every human has a character, each company should have its own. To build a wonderful character, you must know the right way to live as a human being.
Because it is based on the universal ethics of “What is the right thing to do as human beings,” the contents of Kyocera Philosophy can work effectively in any management worldwide. Kyocera has many factories and sales offices all over the world. More than half of the employees are not Japanese. Kyocera is a global corporation, developing business in areas with different languages, peoples, history and culture. In managing companies in different countries, “managing people” is more important than anything else. There are two ways of managing people. One is “Hadō”—controlling people with power. The other is “Ōdō”—managing people with virtues like love and justice. I believe we should earn respect with our personality and virtue in order to manage people.
Then, how can we make people trust and respect us? The answer is to have a wonderful personality. We must make our foreign employees say “The employees of a company with a wonderful character backed by high philosophy are surely worth trusting and respecting. Therefore, we must have a universally high philosophy that gives the company a wonderful character and its employees wonderful personalities.
CONTINUE EFFORTS TO ELEVATE CHARACTER
In explaining and sharing the philosophy that contains the three factors mentioned above, what matters is “how to implement it.” Learning and practicing the right way to live as human beings may sound easy, but in fact it is very difficult. As “Shimazu Nisshinko Irohauta”1 says, knowing great virtue is one thing, but practicing it is another. If you cannot practice it, there is no sense in knowing it. Reflecting on ourselves daily, we must continue to make diligent efforts to live right as human beings. I believe that the most important thing in life is to refine your soul, even a little, through your efforts and to thereby elevate yourself.
1. The counting rhymes of His Highness Shimazu Nisshin, who was one of the most respected lords of Kagoshima domain.