Our Credo is also available in video form.
Parts 1 to 9 can be watched in the YouTube playlist embedded below.
Start by Solving the Customer’s Problem.
Amongst the many lofty targets we have set ourselves, bridging the gap between Japan and the rest of the world and convincing the world of the viability of our unique organizational structure, the Non-Profit Business Organization (NPBO), are two of the most important. Despite setting ourselves such extraordinary goals, however, our approach to achieving them is quite simple – customer satisfaction and making people want to be our clients. It’s that simple. Why adopt such an approach? Because it’s the only approach that matches with the rationale laid forth by the world. And who do we see as our clients? Overseas buyers.
To understand our focus on the foreign market, you have to fully understand the concept of the NPBO, which is a hybrid of a non-profit organization and a business corporation that is based upon the ideologies of the Japanese businessman Magosaburo Ohara. An NPO, whilst morally righteous, is a difficult venture as it is hard to generate a stable income with which to achieve company aims. An NPBO, on the other hand, takes donations and uses them as capital with which to initiate profitable business related to the chosen social issue and generates money which is then used to solve said issue. In our case, we wish to create more opportunities for Japanese to interact with foreigners and foreign cultures, so we are developing an operational platform that will promote B2B business between Japan and the world and then use the proceeds from this to fund the “Daishin Scholarship”, a program which provides financial support for Japanese students to study abroad. By doing this, we are promoting internationalization through both our business and our social responsibilities.
To succeed in our plan, we need to develop strong foundations to our relationships with our international clients so we can effectively solve the issues that often develop during international – and intercultural – business transactions. There will be clashes in ideology between our foreign clients and our domestic chemical manufacturers as they do business and it is vital that we can mediate between them both. A strong foundation to our business relationship will not only mean that our client’s trust us when we advise them on how to deal with a Japanese manufacturer, but will also help us understand the foreign perspective and clearly explain it to our manufacturer; we can then find a compromise between the two positions in order to find the most profitable way forward. This understanding will be a vital aspect in successfully achieving our goal of bridging the gap between Japan and the rest of the world and is a core competency running throughout the company.
Developed by our CEO and founder, Mr. Masa Oguchi, as a reaction to his experiences during various crossroads in his life, the NPBO is an answer to the contradictions plaguing modern social systems. We hope that by achieving a targeted JPY 1 trillion in sales we can prove the economic viability of this structure and open the eyes of society to the potential of the NPBO as a force for social and economic progress.
Start and Finish as Soon as You Can.
“When I survived the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, I saw a candle with an ever-shortening wick appear before my eyes. As a result of this, I have decided to not waste the time I have left. Have you ever thought about how long you have left? I’m 47 now, so I probably have 30 years – or about 11,000 days – remaining. Each person can choose how they spend their remaining time, but I’m only interested in two things; achieving my goals and enjoying time with loved ones.”
Masa Oguchi, CEO of BuyChemJapan Corporation
There’s a famous idiom “Time is money”. However, time and money are not equivalent to each other. You can use time to earn more money, but you can’t buy more time. Our company provides our clients with accurate information, competitive pricing and relevant responses to unexpected troubles and needs. Customers ask for our help because they hope we can do things faster and more accurately so, if we don’t act quickly and save their time, we aren’t fit for purpose and are failing both them and ourselves.
There are three key business-related aspects that highlight the importance of speed.
· Business is a competitive world in which, sometimes, you can win by simply being the first to take action.
· PDCA is of a higher quality the more quickly it is initialized. During any step of a PDCA procedure, you always have to have one eye on the next step; even the perfect plan can be foiled by a new piece of information so it is vital to move quickly and always stay up to date.
· People appreciate speed. A quick and positive response to a client is the first step in a cycle of positivity.
Even if, for now, we are overwhelmingly inferior to our rivals in terms of capital strength we can compete and overcome them with speed and a “finish first” attitude. But, even if you know the importance of speed, how do you become quicker? Whilst each individual is going to have differing top speeds, all they need is the motivation to be quick, reduce their idle time and train themselves to set up instantaneously, and they can improve their speed. When considering these individually the benefits of this approach are clear.
· Many people consider time on a superficial level, so it is important to understand it on an intellectual level in order for motivation to come naturally.
· A thorough understanding of one’s work can ensure a clear mind and mental organization. Clarity concerning the mechanics of the company, the industry and the expectations of you ensure this. Clarity allows for forward planning and preparation which helps us focus on our goals and avoid ambiguity - ambiguity leads to wasted effort and, as a result, wasted time which directly results in slower work.
· Maintenance of working momentum is key. Some people cannot start working without first taking a break, be it a short or a long one. This is a waste of time; take a moment to remind yourself of the importance of immediate action and keep it in mind to help yourself keep moving and retain your momentum.
Keep Customer Confidentiality in Mind, so as Not to Affect Your Colleague’s Efforts.
We started business as a trading company that specializes in chemical products with the intention of launching a unique B2B platform that will help us act as a bridge between Japan and the rest of the world. As part of successfully running and expanding our business we will have to deal with enormous amounts of information, both in analogue and digital forms, and it is integral that we properly protect this information. Any information leakage not only causes inconvenience to any business partners we may have but also leads to the deterioration of our company’s reputation which, in both the short and long term, results in a loss of customer confidence, loss of business, claims for damages and, in the worst-case scenario, the company going out of business. All that will be left of our efforts will be debt.
Protecting the information provided to us by our customers is not only a corporate responsibility but also a social responsibility, as any leakage – even as a result of outside forces – is the fault of the company. We have a multiple-step information security plan to combat this threat, which includes the formulation of independent security policies and security rules for each team, reflective of their individual situations, and the implementation of IT asset registration and log management.
We must be aware, however, that the biggest threat of leakage stems from human error; something as simple as sending an email to the wrong address, misplacing a laptop, or forgetting to update an operating system can result in information entering the wrong hands. Therefore, as a company, we will continue to implement IT literacy education programs to ensure that everyone has a basic knowledge of cyber-attacks, an awareness of the correct procedure for handling confidential information and knows how to handle suspicious emails and websites. This programme is not something that shall be approached passively but instead seen as an active and ongoing programme of improving our knowledge of information security.
Ultimately, the message that must be spread is one of caution and consciousness. We must keep in mind that a lack of awareness by just one person can kill an organization in an instant; therefore, each of us will not just receive information passively, but instead actively update our knowledge about the basics of cyber attacks, the awareness of handling confidential information, and of how to best identify and handle suspicious emails and websites.
Make a Decision Based on Logic, Not Emotion or Atmosphere.
In his 1984 book “The Essence of Failure”, the organizational theorist Ikujiro Nonoka states that during World War II the Japanese army would often take actions that could be considered unreasonable but they would justify by putting them down to the “atmosphere”. It’s fair to say that we have all done, or not done, something due to this undefinable “atmosphere”, but what do we actually mean when we say that?
Japan stands as one of the few 20th Century examples of a country having risen through the ranks from being a developing country to a developed country. Whilst it is right to be in awe of what was achieved by the Japanese who were alive during that remarkable transformation, can we really say that Japan is a world leader outside of anything other than economic concerns? Japan’s role within the G7 is like that of a new company employee; it can’t take on the world on its own and knows that the only thing that it can really do to make a difference is to recognize where the power really lies and follow the examples being set by western Europe and the United States.
As a member of the G7, it would be better if Japan, and the Japanese, were more proactive in contributing to the grand design of humanity and help society develop its skills based on a firm philosophy of conserving the environment and bringing happiness to all. If the Japanese better demonstrate their abilities to be leaders, the way they are viewed internationally will change and lead to a reduction in discrimination against the Japanese abroad. A key factor in achieving this aim will be helping to increase the amount of opportunities for Japanese to communicate with foreigners. At the same time, it is important to move on from decision making that is based on some undefinable “atmosphere” and, instead, use logic to ensure that both non-Japanese and future generations can understand why the decisions that were made were made. The same way of thinking must be applied to emotions; emotional control is difficult, but emotions should not influence the way an organization makes its decisions.
It must not be “atmospheres” and emotions, feelings and intuitions, old customs and the opinions of others, or vague notions of “Everyone’s doing it”, “That seems interesting” or “I like that one” that make our decisions for us; we must move forward with decisions made by ourselves which are based upon a logic which can stand the test of time.
Use Wisdom and Technology as Weapons to Achieve our Goals.
Our mission as a company is to help deepen the mutual understanding between Japan and the rest of the world and help bridge the gap between different cultures and senses of value. It is very difficult to imagine a bright future for any country that does not have a good understanding of its allies; it is vital to make allies all over the world and to understand, and be understood by them, as deeply as possible.
The last decade has seen technology change the world at an accelerated pace, bringing with it an expectation for solutions to eternal problems such as poverty, war and environmental destruction, and the business world has not been exempted from this shift. There is no doubt technology will continue to reshape the world and it is therefore our company’s responsibility to make full use of it to create and maintain platform strategies and educational applications that can assist us in achieving our core goal of increasing the amount of opportunities for communication between Japanese and non-Japanese; in basic terms, our strategy must be to grow and develop in line with the growth and development of technology.
It is important to remember the importance of wisdom when attempting to use technology in the most efficient manner. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge logically and according to eternal morals to achieve the best possible solution. To transform knowledge into wisdom, a person must continue to learn through their own experiences, read and online research, learn eternal morals, develop logical thinking skills and retain a motivation to accomplish what they have set out to do. In the same way you can’t use knowledge you don’t have, you can’t effectively use technology you don’t understand. We don’t need to be able to use all technology, but we do need to make sure we are as up-to-date with the latest technological developments as we can be.
To summarize, it is important that we maintain an awareness of the evolution of technology and implement it in a way relevant to our aims whilst using our eternal morals and logic to decide upon the most efficient way to achieve our goals.
Act Conscientiously According to the Eternal Morals and the Modern Laws of the World.
When you see this credo, you may ask yourself “What’s the difference between “eternal morals” and “laws”? In the context of this credo, ‘modern laws’ refers to the laws and regulations that members of society are expected to follow today; as you would expect, most companies follow these directives as a matter of course. However, what do we mean by “eternal laws”? By this, we mean the moral imperatives that are the same today as they were 500 or even 10,000 years ago; for example, “thou shalt not kill” or “thou shalt not lie.” This stretches into eternal logic, such as “actions have consequences” or that a business that does not serve its customer’s needs has no future.
Whilst these moral imperatives are unwavering over time and space, modern laws are subject to change depending on circumstance. In Japan, as in any country, it is illegal to take the life of another but, if a country were to enter into war with a foreign enemy, the government would be asking its citizens to kill. Ultimately, a business is judged on its ability to maximise its own profits whilst being complicit with the laws of the land, but it is important to remember that beneath the laws is an underlying observance of the “eternal laws” that I spoke of earlier. An obvious example in our case would be, in observance of “thou shalt not kill”, we do not conduct business with the military industrial complex, as it indirectly kills through its productions of the tools which humans use to kill each other, and this policy is something we have shared with our national government. Our aim is to play our part in the eradication of war, even if this means missing out on potential profit.
It is second nature for most of us to comply with the laws that society presents to us, so it is our goal to act in accordance with the rationale of the world and achieve our aims without deviating from the moral imperatives that have guided the world since time began.
Have Both the Strength to be Independent and the Kindness to Contribute to Society
The business world is a tough one and one that constantly demands that you rise up to face competition. If our customers perceive a reduction in the value of what we provide then our income will fall and we won’t be able to invest in the future. Eventually this will lead to the collapse of our company because money is to a business as air is to a human; we feel pain as it disappears and then we die when it is all gone.
However, in our case, making money is not our true reason for doing business; rather it is just a means of achieving our ultimate goal of establishing the model of a Non-Profit Business Organization (NPBO) and increasing the level of communication between Japan and the rest of the world. There’s no problem with companies whose sole aim is to make more and more money, but a life in which all we do is breathe will ultimately be a lonely one. Our aim is to bring meaning to the lives of everyone involved in our company by achieving a clear purpose that is greater than that of merely earning money.
There is a famous literary quote that is a favourite of our CEO, Mr. Masa Oguchi, and is particularly apt here. It comes from Philip Marlowe, the American Private Detective found in the works of the novelist Raymond Chandler.
“If I wasn’t hard, I wouldn’t be alive. If I couldn’t ever be gentle, I wouldn’t deserve to be alive.”
The sentiment of this quote aligns with our way of thinking; you not only need a sense of rigour to live a full life, but also a sense of kindness to ensure that you can instil some meaning within your actions. Severity as a means to live well, combined with a kindness that enables you to consider life’s true purpose, will lead to the success and eventual popularization of the NPBO, as created by Magosaburo Ohara.
Develop Unique know-how and New Values and Carefully Share Them with the World.
If we think of the whole humanity as being represented as one person, then each individual human is equal to one cell. Cells die within three months but the body continues to live due to the constant rebirth of cells. The cells which ignore the harmony of the entire body and destroy the tissue surrounding them are called cancer cells. It is important we live life not as a cancer cell, but as a normal cell.
We are currently promoting a project to enhance the competitiveness of the Japanese chemical industry’s export infrastructure and promote global human resource development. This project is focused on the three “key functions” - marketing (finding customers), business communication (matching manufacturers and end users to their needs) and logistics (delivering the product) - with the aim of providing a business system that facilitates the transfer of knowledge and human resource development. We are moving toward converting and packaging our know-how into IT whilst actively incorporating new ideas and technology; specific projects currently under development include the invention of a total matching model that operates within the niche of the B2B business model, a chat tool compatible with foreign businesses, and a trading system that minimizes human error and waste in relation to the aforementioned “key functions”. In addition to this, we are also developing a total information security solution and working on the optimization of manual creation and operation, IT adoption and, eventually, collaboration between education institutions and game developers with the ultimate aim of creating a learning system that incorporates elements of role-playing games to increase individual motivation. These are not being developed for our exclusive use; these are measures for any manufacturer or trading company that does international business to use free of charge in order to assist them in conducting their trade as smoothly as possible.
Japan’s internationalization is something that must be promoted as it is a social necessity for Japan, and the world, to progress in a positive direction. There can be no doubt that our business will grow as long as we create values that meet the demands of the times in which we live.
Innovate and Contribute to the Development of Humanity.
In our opinion, to innovate is to design new combinations and create new values that break away from current conventions. Human beings have innovated since they were primates and, as a result, we enjoy a life that is continually becoming more comfortable, whether you compare it to ten years ago or ten thousand years ago. We must never forget that the efforts of our ancestors are what built modern civilization and we must also remember that civilization has not reached its final goal yet, as there are still many inequalities and faults that must be solved.
One example of these faults is food waste. While people all over the planet are suffering from hunger and starvation, convenience store operators throughout Japan discard huge numbers of edible lunch boxes every day in order to maximize profits. This is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue. To counteract this we must innovate just as those who preceded us did, reduce such unreasonable and unacceptable occurrences and bring reductions in inequality and contribute to humanity’s development. The best time to do this is in the prime of our lives – the forty years between our early twenties and early sixties - when we are most deeply involved in wider society. Whilst modern-day innovations in technology have coincided with the transformation of traditional business models, some large corporations that had previously played their role in assisting society have slowed their efforts to innovate as they have established models which bring them short-term profits. Contrary to this, we believe that the essential needs of society, the market, and the customer are best served by building a business that provides new values and growth. As a team, we will take steps to support the company’s attempts to innovate. Firstly, it is our role to define what we mean by innovation in society – only then can we be sure which initiatives will lead to progress from the status quo. Additionally, we will continue to create more and more situations which mean we cannot survive within that status quo; for example, under a growth strategy we will actively recruit human resources on the premise of creating situations in which innovation is required. Though such methods, innovation will be encouraged to occur at all levels within the company.
The human brain likes routine and is stressed by change. Keeping in mind that we are an organization that must continue to innovate, provide new values to customers and, eventually, contribute to the development of humankind, we will deceive our own brains as we strive to change our approach on a daily basis.