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Konosuke Matsushita (1894 – 1989)

Founder of Panasonic Corporation (formerly known as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.)

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"The main purpose of production is to manufacture items of good quality for daily use in abundant supply, thereby enhancing and improving the life for everyone and it is this goal that I am dedicated." Konosuke Matsushita

Kaizen - Japanese Strategy for Continuous Improvement Team Culture Konosuke Matsushita Ten3 BUSINESS e-COACH: Why, What, and How The Tao of Business Success 30 Lessonf from Konosuke Matsushita: Corporate Management, Personnel Management, Customer Value Creation Konosuke Matsushita: 7 Core Principles of Management Philosophy of Panasonic

Habits of Konosuke Matsushita that Fostered His Growth1

 

Inspirational Quotes

Konosuke Matsushita Quotes

  • The untrapped mind is open enough to see many possibilities, humble enough to learn from anyone and anything, forbearing enough to forgive all, perceptive enough to see things as they really are, and reasonable enough to judge their true value.

  • Anything worth doing is worth 100%.

  • Business is people.

  • A natural response to a natural phenomenon – that is the secret of success in business and management. You will always win if you rely on common sense.

  • No matter how deep a study you make. What you really have to rely on is your own intuition and when it comes down to it, you really don't know what's going to happen until you do it.

  • If necessity is the mother of invention, then simple, unaffected determination is its father.

  • Even when everyone around you say it's impossible, if you step back and rethink your task in the simplest possible terms, free of the noise of over-erudite and preconceived notions, often the solutions will come to you, out of the blue, so to speak.

  • Recognizing our responsibilities as industrialists, we will devote ourselves to the progress and development of society and the well-being of people through our business activities, thereby enhancing the quality of life throughout the world.

  • Possessing material comforts in no way guarantees happiness. Only spiritual wealth can bring true happiness. If that is correct, should business be concerned only with the material aspect of life and leave the care of the human spirit to religion or ethics? I do not think so. Businessmen too should be able to share in creating a society that is spiritually rich and materially affluent.

  • If we cannot make a profit, that means we are committing a sort of crime against society. We take society's capital, we take their people, we take their materials, yet without a good profit, we are using precious resources that could be better used elsewhere.

Humble Beginnings

Konosuke Matsushita was born into a well-off landowning family in 1894. A decline in the family's fortunes during his childhood meant that Matsushita's education was cut short. At age 9 he became a brazier's apprentice, then a year later a bicycle shop apprentice. He stayed five years at the bicycle shop, picking up basic metalworking skills. At age 16 he went to work in the Osaka Electric Light Company.

Inventor and Entrepreneur

Konosuke Matsushita began the Panasonic’s journey by inventing a two-socket light fixture. This very important, yet elegantly simple, breakthrough led to what is now one of the world's largest electronics companies. Since its founding in 1918, Panasonic Corporation grew to become the largest Japanese electronics producer.

One of the traits that followed Matsushita throughout his career was a willingness to take risks. When Konosuke Matsushita began working for himself, in 1918, at the age of 23,  he had almost nothing: no money, no real formal education, no connections. Yet, his small firm Matsushita Electric Appliance Factory flourished under the guiding hand of a clever, wise, and inspired entrepreneur.

In the late 1980s, Matsushita’s revenues hit a whopping $42 billion. With nearly 20,000 employees, Matsushita grew such household brand names as National, Panasonic and Technics.

Matsushita's success has made him Japan's biggest yen billionaire. He has also made himself the most widely admired businessman in Japan.

Matsushita Basic Business Philosophy

The Matsushita Basic Business Philosophy consists of three elements.

  1. Basic Management Objective – expresses the corporate goals of the company: " Recognizing our responsibilities as industrialist, we will devote ourselves to the progress and development of society and the well being of people through our business activities, thereby enhancing the quality of life throughout the world."

  2. Company Creed – expresses the basic attitude of employees to their daily work: " Progress and development can only be realized through the combined efforts and cooperation of each employee of our company. United in spirit, we pledge to perform our corporate duties with dedication, diligence and integrity."

  3. The Seven Principles – set the standard for the employees' proper mental attitude for their daily work: Contribution to society; Fairness and Honesty; Cooperation and Team Spirit; Untiring Effort for Improvement; Courtesy and Humility; Adaptability; Gratitude.

Paternal Management Philosophy

Matsushita believed that a company should create wealth for society as well as for shareholders, and should always work to alleviate poverty. His business philosophy led to the Japanese "paternal management" tradition, whereby employees are viewed as being part of a "family" within the company, and are assured of lifetime employment, without fear of layoffs.

Devising a New Management System

In 1933, Matsushita devised a new management system, dividing the company into three autonomous business units: radios, lighting & batteries, and synthetic resins/electro-thermal products.

Enriching the Society

To Matsushita, his mission of manufacture was to overcome poverty, to relieve society as a whole from misery, and bring in wealth. Business and production, to Matsushita, were not meant to enrich only the business owners, investors, employees or shops, but all the rest of the society as well. Matsushita never talked narrowly about maximizing shareholder value as the proper goal of an enterprise. Although he did speak often about generating wealth, his emphasized the psychological and spiritual aspects of being – for the good of all people. “Big idealistic / humanistic goals and beliefs are not incompatible with success in business. They may even foster achievement, at least in a rapidly changing context, by supporting those habits, which encourage growth,” Matsushita said.

7 Core Principles of Panasonic Management Philosophy

Panasonic's standards are still firmly grounded in the philosophy of the company founder. The Seven Core Principles of Panasonic were established by Konosuke Matsushita back in the 1930s. These principles, which are also called the seven objectives, comprise the foundation of Panasonic’s management philosophy. Matsushita’s powerful ideas are about the roots of life-long learning. One can, he often told people, learn from any experience, and at any age. With ideals that are big and humanistic, Matsushita emphasized, one could conquer success and failure, learn from both, and continue to grow.

“In a changing environment, life-long learning maybe more related to great success or unusual achievements than IQ, parental socio-economic status, charisma, and formal education… Life-long learning is closely associated with humility, an open mind, a willingness to take risks, a capacity to listen, and honest self-reflection,” Matsushita said.

One piece of advice Konosuke Matsushita gave to his employees in the early days of the company was: You may be a well-educated, clever and virtuous person, but those qualities will not necessarily make you a successful businessman. In addition, you must acquire the knack for business. This is to be done “by giving your best to each and every task you take on, and by reflecting on your performance with an honest and unprejudiced eye. If you do this constantly, day after day, eventually you will be able to do your job unerringly." In other words, you acquire the secret to business success gradually by applying yourself with conscious effort from day to day.

 

 

 

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References:

  1. Matsushita Leadership, John P. Kotter

  2. Velvet Glove, Iron Fist and 101 Other Dimensions of Leadership, Konosuke Matsushita

  3. Following Henry Ford, Time