Like many companies today, YKK has a philosophy, management principle and a set of Core Values which our employees look to in performing their jobs and in providing the best quality products and services.
Our philosophy, called the CYCLE OF GOODNESS™, was developed by our founder, Tadao Yoshida, and it states that “no one prospers without rendering benefit to others.” It expresses the basic belief of the YKK Group. Tadao Yoshida firmly believed that business belongs to society. As an important member of society, a company survives through coexistence. When the benefits are shared, the value of the company’s existence will be recognized by society. When pursuing his business, Mr. Yoshida was most concerned with that aspect and would find a path leading to mutual prosperity. He believed that using ingenuity and inventiveness in business activities and constantly creating new value would lead to the success of clients and business partners and make it possible to contribute to society. This type of reasoning is referred to as the CYCLE OF GOODNESS™ and has always served as the foundation of our business activities. We have inherited this way of thinking and have established it as the YKK Corporate philosophy.
When Tadahiro Yoshida became president of YKK in 1993, he expanded upon the CYCLE OF GOODNESS™ in a way that would resonate in an increasingly globalized society. Building on YKK’s fundamental concept of creating value, he adopted “YKK seeks corporate value of higher significance” as the YKK Management Principle.
The CYCLE OF GOODNESS™ and the YKK Management Principle complement each other - while the CYCLE OF GOODNESS™ asks us to create value and share the benefits, the YKK Management Principle gives us a clear set of rules on how to do so. By continually striving for innovation in our products, technology, and the management of our company, we can deliver value to our customers, employees and society.
Fairness is the anchor between those with whom we share benefits and our way of delivering those benefits. We use “fairness” in a broader sense - one that goes beyond simply abiding by the law. “Fairness” at YKK means cultivating the knowledge and wisdom within our company to make just decisions in every community around the world where we do business.
In 2008, through the input of employees worldwide, YKK introduced three Core Values that they believed were most important to our corporate culture. The first of our Core Values is “Do Not Fear Failure. Experience Builds Success. Create Opportunities for Employees.” This value emphasizes the fact that we do not believe in setting low goals just so everyone can achieve them. Rather, we believe in striving to achieve high goals. It is important to set high goals and to be unafraid of making mistakes along the way. In addition, the value “Create opportunities for employees” encourages managers to give their employees the opportunity to grow and to overcome challenges and achieve success.
Our second Core Value, “Insist on Quality in Everything” encourages each of us to be uncompromising in the quality of our own work regardless of whether we work in one of our plants or in an office. Job quality means understanding your customer’s point of view and doing all you can to offer that customer higher quality than expected through innovative ideas and inventions. We are encouraged to do just a little bit more each time to improve our job quality and our customers’ satisfaction.
Our third Core Value, “Build Trust, Transparency and Respect” puts a great deal of emphasis on doing business where we build credit and trust from our customers, business partners, the community and society. We build invaluable trust by always making fair and truthful decisions and by an accumulation of efforts with a very high degree of transparency. We are proud of what we have achieved so far, and we believe that the trust we have earned is vital to our long-term growth.
Recently, we realized that if we define organizational culture as “the commonly-held set of values and principles that show up in the everyday behavior of its people,” then our next step in creating a great organizational culture is ensuring that our employees’ behavior is reflecting YKK’s values.
So how can we make sure that our employees’ behavior reflects our values? In early 2017, the YKK North and Central America Group embarked on a new initiative in which 22 leaders from across the region defined 25 concrete, actionable behaviors, based on YKK’s Philosophy, Management Principle and Core Values, that we want all YKK employees to implement. Many of these behaviors are directly tied to our Core Values, such as “Make quality personal” and “Make customers a priority.” Others, such as “Do the right thing, always,” “Be vigilant about safety,” “Protect the environment,” and “Clarify expectations,” are not explicitly stated by the YKK Philosophy and Core Values and therefore do not automatically come up in our discussions, but are nonetheless behaviors we expect of employees.
Once the leaders defined the 25 Fundamental Behaviors, we put in place a process to “ritualize” their discussion. We feel that the best way to create a great culture that reflects the YKK Philosophy, Management Principle and Core Values is to get employees to adopt and internalize our Fundamental Behaviors. And the only way to get employees to internalize those behaviors is by teaching them over and over again until implementing them becomes virtually automatic. Therefore, every Monday morning of every week, our North and Central America Group CEO, Alex Gregory, sends an email in English, Spanish and French to every employee in the North and Central America Group that explains that week’s Fundamental Behavior and includes an episode or commentary about the behavior. We ask every employee, at all levels throughout our organization, to start every meeting with a 3 to 5 minute discussion about the Fundamental Behavior of the week. Once we finish discussing all 25 Fundamental Behaviors, we will start over with Behavior #1. It is our hope that every employee from Canada to Colombia will try to live by these Fundamental Behaviors in their daily lives. Though we realize that none of us are perfect, we believe that if we exhibited these behaviors in our actions and deeds every day, we would become better people, better employees and better members of society.
Here are our 25 fundamental behaviors.