The Basic Business Philosophy of the Panasonic Group

6. Practicing the Basic Business Philosophy

The Basic Business Philosophy can only be internalized by applying it. Former Chairman Arataro Takahashi said, "An intellectual understanding of the Basic Business Philosophy is of little use. To establish it as your unshakeable foundation, it is important to put it into practice and learn it with your body." He applied the philosophy to the reform and growth of many group companies.

This section explains the essentials that must be understood as requirements for practicing the Basic Business Philosophy.

(1) Envision the kind of future we should achieve and pursue essential customer value

Our goal is to realize an ideal society with material and spiritual affluence. This is also true for our individual businesses, each of which must envision its ideal future and strive to achieve it.

The ideal future we refer to here is not an extension of the current situation, nor is it something we are considering solely from our own perspective. What should people's lives, society, and the global environment look like in the future, and how can we ensure that our children and grandchildren will be able to live a richer life in both material and spiritual terms? It is necessary to envision the kind of future we should realize, one that places people at the center.

Calculating backward from there, then, how should our business make contributions? How should it change and refine its competitiveness to be unrivalled by any competitor's? And what measures should be taken to achieve that? We must think through these things, and put them thoroughly into practice.

To realize the ideal future through the specific products and services of our business, we must pursue essential values for customers. Essential customer value is not the pursuit of excessive performance or quality, nor does it mean simply doing what the customer asks us to do. It is about staying truly close to customers, looking at the essence of their problems and issues and their future, and realizing what is truly useful for them.

We must listen carefully to our current customers and improve our products from their standpoint. At the same time, staying truly close to customers means considering how we can evolve future lifestyles and society for their benefit, and boldly addressing the challenge of achieving this.

Many Panasonic Group businesses have developed in accordance with this approach. Take the motor business. In the 1930s, the founder envisioned a future in which an average of ten motors would be used in each household, and based on this vision he launched a motor business. At the same time, he established a goal of delivering radios widely at half the price of conventional models, to give people easier access to information, and he succeeded in cutting the cost in half.

The road to the future we must achieve will be long and arduous. Our motor business, which was started from scratch, was initially such a failure that even within the company there were those who argued that the factory should be closed.

However, former Chairman Arataro Takahashi told all the employees involved in the motor business to put the Basic Business Philosophy into practice—to achieve unparalleled quality, cost, and service. Everyone in the manufacturing, engineering, and sales departments responded by making improvements tirelessly. The result was a lineup of motors that were so popular, the business division couldn't produce them fast enough. It took about 20 years to reach that point, but the development of the motor business contributed greatly to the subsequent development of the home appliance business.

In this way, in each of our businesses, we must envision the future we should achieve and pursue essential customer value.

(2) Achieve social justice, and co-existence and mutual prosperity

In the conduct of our business, using the managerial resources entrusted to us by society, we must utilize these resources correctly for the benefit of society, and fully fulfill our responsibilities to the parties concerned.

In addition to not violating laws and regulations as well as social morality, we must always consider what is right for society, acquire proven wisdom, and put it into practice. The founder captured the importance of doing so with the term "social justice." With the protection of the physical and mental health of our employees as a prerequisite, the tireless implementation of social justice will contribute to the true development of society, the industry, and our business partners.

In addition, in the close relationships we develop in the course of doing business with companies that supply us with materials, subcontractors and contracting companies that support our business, and affiliated retail stores and sales agents that sell our products, we must endeavor to realize mutual prosperity and development.

As partners pursuing the development of society, it is essential to have open discussion and mutual understanding among these related parties, as well as mutual awareness-raising in the areas of products, technology, and process improvement. In this way, each party can play a greater role in society, through cooperation while maintaining autonomy, and mutual support that gives rise to collective strengths. This is the Panasonic Group's fundamental view of co-existence and mutual prosperity.

(3) Eradicate waste, inaction, and rework

From the standpoint of our profits, as stated in 1. The Mission of the Enterprise, we must regard being in the red as a sin. Further, even if a business is generating a substantial profit, if that business is plagued with excessive waste and inaction, then it is simply losing opportunities to generate higher profits. Consequently, we miss the chance to earn money that should be shared with our employees, shareholders, and society, and that enables us to contribute to a wider range of customers and the society of the future. In this respect, such conditions are also considered as a sin.

Thus it is obvious that being in the red is a sin, but moreover the presence of waste, inaction, and the need for rework in the business is itself a sin. No matter how small each individual's work may be, it exists for the benefit of people in society and is always linked to the development of society.

In this sense, there should not be a single bit of waste in our business activities. Every day, each one of us must be aware of every second or every single piece of waste and make improvements to eliminate it. Therefore, we should always strive to do our best work, understanding that even if we are dealing with a single screw or a sheet of paper, our work should lead to the development of society.

Of course, the way work is done changes with the times, but in any era, we must increase the speed of work and business, strengthen the competitiveness of our operational frontlines, and thus contribute to society by thoroughly eliminating waste, inaction, and rework.

(4) Respond to change in society

Society is changing every day, and the speed of change is accelerating every year. In the midst of such changes, some things decline and disappear, while others are newly born, but overall, society is constantly evolving and developing.

In recent years, many social issues have arisen from the negative effects of development, such as global environmental issues. However, if we see such issues as needing a solution, and aim for a better response or a new path, we can say that our society continues to develop while changing day by day. The founder believed that the principle of "growth and development" is at work in all things in the world.

In each of our businesses, we aim to envision the future that needs to be realized, anticipate the future of our customers, and deliver products and services that truly contribute to them, in order to realize an ideal society with material as well as spiritual affluence. As we strive to do so, we will face changes that represent not only opportunities but also threats.

In the face of such changes and signs of changes, it is important not to take a superficial view, but to face the situation head-on and objectively, as it is, and then grasp the major trends behind it. In order to cope with change, we must consider even the possibility of discarding methods that so far have proven to be effective.

We must have the courage to discard what should be discarded, and start each day with a new attitude and new ways of doing things. This attitude will require us to monitor social change and continue to push ourselves with enthusiasm.