The Basic Business Philosophy of the Panasonic Group

10. Developing People and Making the Most of Their Potential

(1) How the Panasonic Group values people

A company's comprehensive power is the sum of employee strength. Therefore, to increase the company's overall strengths, we must each identify what is needed in our work and independently exercise our full capacity to make improvements.

Only when employee goals and the company's direction are aligned, and the company's goals are an extension of those of each employee, can the efforts of each employee be combined so that the organization can do unrivalled work that is chosen by customers.

To achieve this, superiors should have a good understanding of the unique capabilities of each subordinate, and strive to make their individual strengths shine so that they can exercise their abilities with a sense of fulfillment. At the same time, subordinates are expected to believe in their own potential and continue to improve themselves.

Each of us is responsible for the growth of the Panasonic Group. The Group's ability to continue contributing to society's development depends on the mindset and behavior of each of us.

Against this background, the foundation of our management is to nurture and utilize the precious human resources entrusted to us by society. As the founder stated, "A business is people."

"A business is people": In any enterprise, finding the right people is the first step toward development. No matter how distinguished a company's history or tradition, the inability to find people capable of carrying on that tradition will eventually lead to the company's decline. Management organizations and methods are very important, of course, but it is people who give life to them.… Thus, business management is more than anything about cultivating strong human resources and encouraging them to fulfill their potential.

(2) Enhance your own capabilities

As members of the Panasonic Group, we must always make correct value judgments with a sunao (untrapped) mind in accordance with the Basic Business Philosophy, and enhance our capabilities through rigorous daily practice and humble reflection on our experiences.

In particular, the Seven Principles is a guideline for self-development as a member of the Panasonic Group. At the same time, it is a guideline for living a better life as industrialists aspiring to contribute to social development. Former Chairman Arataro Takahashi explained the significance of practicing the Seven Principles as follows.

The Seven Principles is the foundation of the Basic Business Philosophy. For example, the contents of "Contribution to Society" are the embodiment of the Basic Management Objective itself, and to put this into practice in a concrete manner means to do work that is unrivalled in terms of quality, cost, and service, and that is chosen by customers. With this understanding, we must constantly reflect on whether the products we manufacture truly contribute to society, and whether our current approach to manufacturing them is appropriate. These reflections and examinations are repeated on a daily basis. Through their accumulation, originality and ingenuity are generated, and the Basic Business Philosophy is reflected in our actual work. Therefore, without a clear basic policy, it is impossible to develop people.

A company has an obligation to develop its human resources in a timely and appropriate manner. At the same time, each of us must be ambitious and keep striving to achieve our personal goals.

(3) Human resources development policy

The founder indicated the significance of human resources development in the Panasonic Group with the phrase, "Develop people before making products." He believed that manufacturing good products must be preceded by developing the kind of people needed.

So how do we develop human resources and make the most of their potential? The basic idea is to develop personnel entrusted to us by society, who fully understand the Basic Business Philosophy, work earnestly based on these policies, reflect humbly, and continue to strive for improvement every day.

What is most important in human resources development is to entrust work to your subordinates without hesitation. This is also the essence of autonomous responsible management. People are nurtured at operational frontlines, and for them to develop their capabilities, they must learn by working, thinking, and taking action independently.

Entrusting work to subordinates does not mean assigning tasks indiscriminately. While keeping in mind the need to bear final responsibility, superiors must encourage their subordinates to think and improve autonomously. It is important not to teach subordinates everything, but to communicate with them so that they can think, become aware, and internalize the lessons they learn.

Although it is sometimes necessary for you to treat your subordinates harshly for the sake of their own needs, the most important thing is to treat them with sincerity and affection so they can trust you and work toward their own growth with a sense of security.

As you fulfill your responsibilities as superiors by delegating with a watchful eye, you must also lead your subordinates by thinking deeply about future risks that may arise. There are also things that your subordinates can teach you, and this can lead to your own growth as a superior.

One example of this practice is the establishment of the Saga Factory. In the early 1960s, to set up a dry battery factory in Saga Prefecture for Kyushu Matsushita Electric, former Chairman Arataro Takahashi selected two young employees about 30 years of age with no prior experience in setting up factories, and entrusted them with everything from construction of the new building and facilities to the launch of manufacturing.

Takahashi conveyed only the basic guidelines without any detailed conditions, but also imposed strict requirements, such as instructing the two employees to cut their proposed construction budget in half. As a result of their hard work and ingenuity, they succeeded in building the factory for less than the original budget. As managers, they continued to contribute to the establishment of overseas factories and the management of group companies.

People development is the superior's most important job. The Panasonic Group aims to continue contributing to social progress by working toward an ideal society. Though you may establish far-reaching ideals and goals, the period of your involvement in your business can be considered fleeting. Therefore, from the perspective of maintaining the business as a going concern, superiors must train their subordinates since business must ultimately be passed down to the next generation.

You as superiors must be aware that you have the responsibility of guiding your subordinates, who are entrusted to us by society, to surpass yourselves. As societal evolution accelerates, it is difficult to believe that conventional approaches will work in the next generation. Therefore, you must help your subordinates so they can gain the capability to flexibly deal with various difficulties when they are in a position of responsibility.

Our predecessors at Panasonic have left us much invaluable advice about developing people and making the most of their abilities. We hope you will apply them to human resources development and your own personnel growth.