Special Exhibition, Konosuke Matsushita Museum: Konosuke Matsushita—Three Works That Convey Passion

Konosuke Matsushita Museum Konosuke Matsushita—Three Works That Convey Passion: Part 3: An Idea in a Payroll Envelope

Dates: Monday, October 7 to Saturday, November 23, 2019

In this third part and final part, the Three Works That Convey Passion, we take a look at the passion that Konosuke conveyed to his employees.
In 1953, Matsushita Electric launched a novel mode of internal communication that would bring Konosuke and his employees together. Konosuke came up with the idea to insert a leaflet with a message into employees' monthly payroll envelopes. These were called payroll leaflets.
In this third part, we shed some light on the payroll leaflets. Read between the lines of the messages that the payroll envelopes conveyed to get a sense of Konosuke's feelings for his employees.

Internal communications and payroll leaflets

From the time the company was founded, Konosuke Matsushita placed an emphasis on communication between himself and his employees and on communication among employees. That was why he expended such effort to enhance internal communications. His idea for a payroll leaflet was part of that effort.
In 1927, Konosuke published the inaugural issue of Hoichikai kaishi ("Hoichi-kai Society Journal"), a publication for an employee association called the Hoichi-kai Society. This was the start of internal communications at Matsushita Electric. 1934 saw the founding of Matsushita denki shonai shinbun ("Matsushita Electric In-house Newsletter") (renamed the following year, when the company was incorporated, to Matsushita denki shanai shinbun), which served to share management policies and information with employees. After World War II, in 1946, the in-house newspaper was restarted, and in 1954, the in-house magazine was relaunched under the new name Shofu.
Amid all this, the payroll leaflets stood out. Konosuke very much wanted his heartfelt messages to be read. He therefore hit upon the idea to use the payroll envelopes, which every employee received, as the medium for the passion he wanted to share.

Eight years of the payroll leaflet

The eight years from January 1953 to January 1961, when Konosuke included these leaflets in payroll envelopes, coincided with the period in which he, as president of Matsushita Electric, strongly promoted home appliances throughout Japan.
In 1951, Konosuke resolved to rebuild the company as if it had just started out in business, and began full-scale restructuring of the business. That year not only saw his first visit to the United States, but it was followed, in 1952, by the formation of a technical tie-up with Philips in the Netherlands, and, knowing that an age of electronics was in the offing, the founding of Matsushita Electronics Corporation. The eight years of the payroll leaflet, therefore, began in the following year.
Those eight years were witness to incredible growth for the company. The number of employees more than tripled, from 7,500 to 23,000, and sales grew from 13.9 billion yen to almost ten times that amount, to 119.6 billion yen. It is worth noting that this period also saw the enactment of the Matsushita Electric Five-Year Business Plan (from 1956 to 1960). Konosuke referred to that five-year business plan as an invisible contract with the public, and every effort was made to honor that contract, from manufacturing and sales to communication with consumers. Having far exceeded the objectives of that plan, Konosuke retired as president in January 1961, taking on the role of chairman. The payroll leaflet for that month, which read "Thank you all for your long-term efforts," was the last in the series.

Konosuke's messages on video

The most powerful message that Konosuke incorporated into the payroll leaflets was the basic awareness that Matsushita Electric was a public entity of society.
An excerpt on that topic is presented together with a portrait of Konosuke.
The music playing in the background is the melody from what was then the company song.