The fresh air has brought the season of flowers.
It really is a delightful time of the year,
full of joyous songs. And it is a most appropriate
time for the customary expressions of determination
that people recite from March into April as
they embark on new journeys in life.
At this time of year I find myself thinking
about various things. For example, about the
industry, companies in the industry, managers,
working people, and, more than anything else,
users. In particular, I am always wondering
about what the interests of users are for the
industry. My notebook is full of related musings,
which range from my own thoughts to the sayings
of wise men (mostly the latter).
“In order to ensure a sales volume, you
have to rely on large discount stores. As a
result, your efforts to cut costs reach a deadlock,
and you end up facing management difficulties.”
Whenever I read this statement, I am aware that,
from past to present, things have not changed
a bit. Indeed, this scene is probably perpetual.
If you depend too much on large discount stores,
since the stronger the discount store is, the
more stringent its purchases and conditions
will be, naturally the only way that the dependent
side can respond is by endeavoring in various
ways to reduce costs. The outcome is that these
efforts run into an impasse, and the company
slumps into management difficulties and has
to withdraw. The secret of a manager’s
success, and the secret of success at this time
of year, when a new business term begins, lies
in somehow reaching a compromise before this
What is occurring now is the result of decisions
made and put into practice a few years ago,
and the direction forward cannot be ascertained
without a rigorous analysis of those decisions.
As long as the industry exists in a state of
dependence on the large discount stores, the
direction of dependence on these stores is not
going to change. And as long as the large discount
stores are in a state of war among themselves,
inevitably prices and profits are going to collapse
and that limitless vicious circle will continue.
Unless a way out of this situation is found,
the outcome will be disaster.
My notebook contains the words of one wise man
who says, “From now on, integrity will
be everything for the manager. That is to say,
we have entered an age in which sincerity, passion,
and ethics will be questioned.”
Masatoshi Ito, the founder of Ito-Yokado, said
around the time of the establishment of his
company, “They won’t sell, they
won’t lend, they won’t come.”
In other words, business partners will not sell
products, banks will not lend money, and customers
will not come to make purchases. The reason
for the success of Ito-Yokado, including Seven-Eleven,
is that this basic thinking is still firmly
permeating the company today.
If your business partners become exhausted and
fall into management difficulties, in the end
you won’t have anything to sell and won’t
be able to satisfy your customers. Even if you
stock products from the few makers who have
survived, your customers most likely will not
There is also a poem by Michio Mado in my notebook
that reads: “Looking at a pot, before
I know it, I find myself breathing for the pot.
Since the pot stands very quietly, it seems
to be sitting.”
“Gentlemen, I believe that the main point
of politics is to straighten the bends in national
society and return the unnatural to nature.”
“Instead of just accepting things, it
is important to confirm them yourself before
It is at this time of the year that I find myself
writing a lot in my notebook, too.