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Konosuke Matsushita on Human Development
1. Make People before Making Products
I think it was more than 30 years ago, quite a long time ago, that I told a young employee that whenever he visits a client and is asked “What does Matsushita Electric manufacture?”
He should say, “Matsushita Electric makes people...and we also manufacture electrical appliances and various other products.”
At that time my motto was “business is rooted in human resources,” meaning that unless our workers are educated, unless they can grow and develop as human beings, our business will never be a success.
Therefore, although the manufacture of electrical appliances is very important, in order to do it well, we first have to develop the people who do the work.
I had come to that conclusion while conducting our day-to-day manufacturing operations.
My concept was well received by all of the people working for me at that time.
I think that most of our employees were inspired by the fact that while Matsushita Electric was manufacturing electrical appliances, more importantly, it was helping people grow.
Thus, in spite of our weak position in areas such as technology, finances, and brand recognition, that atmosphere of concern for employees was a great motivating factor in helping us develop faster than other companies.
We may not have had a lot of money, the best technology at that time or a long- standing reputation in the marketplace, but our clients thought that because we educated our people to be men of integrity, our employees were the best no matter how young they were.
Clients thus felt they couldn’t say “no” to Matsushita Electric’s salesmen.
Young boys just a year or two out of junior high school bested 10-year veteran salesmen from well-known companies - that was Matsushita Electric’s style.
And I’m not exaggerating.
Thirty or 40 years ago, when we were just starting to compete with leading wiring equipment manufacturers, we’d send out our young boys.
Our competitors would send out veteran salesman with 10 years or more of experience.
And it was our young boys who won out.
Those young salesmen, and our other young employees, left a lasting impression on our clients.
And the reason for that is that we believed in making people.
Our strong belief that we had to grow and develop as human beings gave us the power to make Matsushita Electric what it is today.
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