Asian Identity has been supporting many companies in their corporate philosophy development projects. This time, we interviewed Mr. Kikuchi, the President of KIKUWA (Thailand), a precision die-casting manufacturer with business in Japan, Thailand, and India.
– What were the objectives and challenges of the Philosophy Project?
We were aware of the problem of redefining the positioning of our company. We originated in Japan, but later we expanded to Thailand and India, and now we are aiming to be in the position of “KIKUWA is the No.1 manufacturer of die castings in Asia” with the strength of our 3 production bases in Japan, Thailand, and India.
However, since the language and culture of Japan, India, and Thailand are completely different, if left unchecked, the centrifugal force will work, causing division in attitude and mindset. To become a unified “Asian company”, we needed something like a “guideline”. That is the corporate philosophy that we have formulated this time.
What is the purpose of our work? How can we be chosen by our customers? What are we conscious of as we work every day to achieve this? When these ideas are unified, the “core” of the company becomes clearer, and we believe that our strengths will be more alive.
– Did you notice any changes in the organization or human resources after you put philosophy into words?
Penetration of corporate philosophy is not something that ends after doing it once, but it is something that must be continued in the future.
However, looking at the current situation, I think that it is difficult to imagine management without philosophy.
Among our philosophy, we refer to the 6 Values as our action guidelines, and everyday our leaders give instructions based on the 6 Values that is posted in the meeting rooms, and at policy meetings, these 6 Values are usually mentioned in conversations as a common language. I have experienced many times when what I was about to say came out of my employees’ mouths first and making me say, “I was just about to say that”.
I will continue my activities until the 6 Values and other corporate philosophy permeate the consciousness of each and every one of us and become something we talk about as if they were air.
– What kind of positive effects will the corporate philosophy have on your business growth and business results?
The industry surrounding our products, especially the automotive industry, is changing rapidly. We need to constantly update ourselves to be able to respond to these changes. To do so, we need to communicate our Vision to our employees on a daily basis and encourage them to change.
At that time, messages such as the 6 Values work very effectively in communicating to employees. For example, there is a value called “Professional Team,” which tells employees that each of them should work as a professional and collaborate effectively. Values are always useful when giving such feedback.
A philosophy is like the Bible in a sense. They are abstract, but because they are abstract, they are able to get to the essence of things even in times of rapid change.
Nowadays, from Thailand, I can’t fly to Japan, India, or other overseas bases to give direct instructions. Even when I can’t see them, there are times when I have to delegate important decisions to them. In such cases, if you have values, you can say, “If you are in doubt, please make a decision based on the values”. Even if you can’t give specific instructions on every detail, if you can make decisions based on the same values, you can prevent major problems.
In the future, as we aim to become more and more of an Asian company, more and more decisions will be made by local staff. In a sense, I believe that a common compass, like the corporate philosophy, is exactly what we need when we move to true diversity management.
– What was your impression of Asian Identity’s involvement in the project?
First of all, Asian Identity itself is working under the banner of “Asia’s HR Firm”, which is why I felt it overlapped with Kikuwa. I think it is very rare to find a team that is not here just for a business trip from Japan, but one that is committed to the region of Asia and works side by side.
There was a time when a Japanese and a Thai team traveled to India together and worked together to spread the corporate philosophy. The Thai people conveyed the philosophy to the Indian people as “fellow Asians”. This is really not an easy thing to do.
The Indians learn from the Thais, and the Thais learn from the Indians. I think this is a great thing and something that has never been done before in Japanese companies. I believe that Asian Identity team has the advantage of taking the initiative to become a case study, experiment, and lead customers based on the experience.
– Lastly, please tell us about your future goals.
As I mentioned at the beginning, we are aiming to become an “Asian company”. To achieve this, I would like to create an organization where people from diverse countries can make the best use of each other’s strengths, rather than a company where Japanese people give orders.
“Diversity management” in a nutshell is a very complicated thing. If Japanese people talk to each other in Japanese, it often ends quickly, but that’s not good enough. We need to bring together people from various countries and cultures and work together, even though it is a lot of work. There is definitely a meaning in that.
The world is changing at an incredible pace right now, and I am amazed at how tolerant Indians are to change. Our strength is that we have the diversity within our company to cope with such changes. I would like to use this organizational strength to bravely confront change.