Long before we had YKK’s three Core Values, we had Tadao Yoshida’s Cycle of Goodness to guide us. This philosophy teaches us, “No one prospers without rendering benefit to others.” This philosophy was explained to me over the years by different people in very different ways, but the explanation which made the most lasting impression on me was, “In every decision we make, we should consider how it will affect our customers, our employees, the communities in which we work, and the company itself.”
For more than 43 years I have observed how YKK’s leaders around the world have followed this philosophy in their daily decision-making. When we considered how to incorporate this important philosophical concept into our Behaviors, we decided simply to say, “Do the right thing, always.”
We are all kind, rational, and good people, right? People normally do not go out seeking to do the wrong thing. But does everyone always do the right thing? No, they certainly do not. What might keep us from doing the right thing always at work? Perhaps one reason is fear. Fear of a financial or emotional loss, fear or embarrassment, fear of change, fear of being excluded from the crowd, or fear of disappointing someone we respect.
Another reason we might not do the right thing is because we are not really sure what the right thing to do really is. We have many seemingly competing interests at work: the interest of your team, the interest of another part of the business, the interest of senior management, the interest of the community, and the interest of the customer. All of these interests are stakeholders. So whom do we please?
As we stand at life’s many crossroads, we need a moral compass to help us decide which way to go. Anyone who is a parent knows that doing the right thing is not always doing the most popular thing. But even though doing the right thing may temporarily impact one of our stakeholders, our history has shown us that doing the right thing always is a profitable business plan. Let’s consider everyone who is affected by our decisions and take the path that is best for all concerned.
And if determining the right thing to do is not always clear, then call a meeting with stakeholders. Do not carry this burden alone and hope no one finds out. Share the issue, and work with your colleagues to come up with a solution.
Please discuss this issue with your colleagues. Has doing the right thing at work ever been a challenge? Are there situations where the path for doing the right thing is not always clear? How might you work with our fellow YKK employees to illuminate the right path for you? Is there an instance when doing the right thing is not the right thing to do? Even if no one finds out that we do the wrong thing, is there a cost? Does the risk of bad consequences for doing the wrong thing ever justify doing it?
Remember, our goal is to do the right thing always, no matter how difficult it may seem.
Sincerely, Alex Gregory Chairman and CEO, YKK Corporation of America