The Idea of “Effortless Management

Recently a party to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of K’s Holdings was held at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. More than 600 people attended. At present K’s Holdings has achieved sales of nearly \600 billion. It is a leader of the mega-discount market and is continuing to grow. That was the background for the celebratory banquet.

K’s Holdings President Shuichi Kato has always advocated the philosophy of “effortless management,” and in his address at the party he spoke about it again in a very natural manner. “Effortless management” means management that steadfastly does what should be done. And “what should be done” means thoroughly implementing the customer-first principle and placing importance more than anything else on employees, shareholders, and suppliers. In other words, it means three-way satisfaction.

Masatoshi Ito, the founder of Ito-Yokado, spoke at the establishment of that company of “won’t lend, won’t sell, and won’t come.” “Won’t lend” means that banks will not give loans. Therefore, it is important to gain trust. ”Won’t sell” means that if suppliers will not sell their products, there can be no business, so it is important to be sincerely grateful to suppliers, procure good products from them, and do your best to sell them. And “won’t come” means that customers will not come to the store to shop. Prosperity depends on getting as many customers as possible to gladly come to the store, so it is important to thoroughly imbue the customer-first principle, show gratitude to customers, and be united with customers.

Listening to President Kato’s talk about “effortless management,” these words also went through my mind. Store managers often tend to think that customers will come if their prices are low. Accordingly, supplier prices get dramatically cut. As a result, the suppliers run out of steam and cease to create good products, and in the long term customers stop coming. In other words, everybody ends up unhappy.

This seems to be the trend in the industry, so no doubt the representatives of makers in attendance, listening to President Kato’s address and the wonderful speech of the founder, who has turned 90 years of age, felt the freshness of clear skies without a single cloud and were filled with thoughts of their own.

It is often said that the future is unknown, but in corporate management, you have to know what is coming. And what we know for sure is that in 70 years’ time there will still be people, and the human spirit will not change. One person’s life is finite, but human life is eternal, and human spirit is limitless. As long as there are people, it will be possible to manage companies. Indeed, that is our mission.

“Effortless management” is management that approaches the human spirit in a natural manner. Companies that deviate from the human spirit will simply be told by customers, “That’s enough!” The secret behind successful management is to constantly keep in mind what might happen over the next 10 years at least.

The background to K’s rapid growth over 60 years, during which time it has not once seen sales decline, is its firm grasp of the human spirit. The thanksgiving party affirmed that this position is not going to change over the next 60 years, either.