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The Japanese are globally recognized for their dedication towards technology. From household appliances to automobiles and even dancing robots, the high-quality creations from Japan have never ceased to wow the world with their amazing attention to detail. There is something about Japanese craftsmanship that is uniquely theirs. Whether is it their creative approach, or perhaps some natural ability they have, we don’t know, but we’re guessing it might be an extreme case of passion for their work.

We dug into the quotes and experiences of four superstars of Honda, one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers, in an attempt to unravel the secret to their success.

  • Akio Kazusa

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“At Honda, we manufacture and sell cars and motorbikes that are for racing. It’s a fundamentally different matter from having races in order to sell our cars.”

“A project leader told a discouraged engineer, ‘Don’t worry, this job’s a lot easier than planning a trip to Mars’ to cheer him up.”

“I made an appeal to my superior, ‘Please allow me to go overseas (where computers that can draw blueprints were available),’ and was reprimanded, ‘Don’t assume it’s that easy to get a transfer,’ but I was soon posted overseas.”

Akio Kazusa joined Honda as an engine designer in 1979, and stayed with the company throughout his time at the company, taking on the position of President of Honda Soltec at the peak of his career. In today’s society, people who stay faithful to one company throughout their career are becoming something of a rare breed. But in a company where investment in an employee’s potential is supported, it is no surprise that their employees are willing to dedicate their skills and knowledge to the company.
 

  • Saburo Kobayashi

honda-president online“If 9 out of 10 people agree to it there’s no point in doing research. The diamond lies in the technology that nine people have objected to.”

“Creation cannot be born of decision by majority or logic.”

“Young employees were often having intense discussions with the directors in casual tones.”

“Even if he’s the Managing Director, doesn’t mean that he’s right about everything. Go pick your own argument.”
(Words given to Kobayashi Saburo by his manager at the time.)

Kobayashi Saburo joined the Honda R&D in 1971, and is credited for developing Japan’s first airbag system for mass production.

In typical Japanese organizations, hierarchy is strictly followed and employees are expected to speak formally when communicating with co-workers of higher rank. Directors having discussions with young employees gives us a hint that the engineers at Honda treasure the fact that good ideas can come from any employee, regardless of age or hierarchy, and that these ideas and opinions are important leads to new creations. Sounds like a thrilling experience to pick an argument with your boss, but we recommend that you only do so with caution!  

  • Tadashi Kume

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“Can’t you even validate why you want to be what you want to be?”

“I don’t want to hear from other companies. There is nothing more than relative talk to that.”

“When deciding the direction Honda should take, why bother about the response from other companies.”

Tadashi Kume joined Honda in 1954 and climbed the ranks to become the company’s third president in 1983. He specialized in engine design, and was involved in designing engines for Honda’s F1 racing cars, as well as supporting the development of robots and aircrafts while he was in office as President.
His words seem to emphasize the importance of self-identity, and knowing what’s best for oneself. Could that be the secret recipe to creating extraordinary inventions?
 

  • Soichiro Honda

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Shachou (CEO) is nothing great. It’s the same as kachou (section manager), buchou (department manager), houchou (kitchen knife) and mouchou (appendix). He’s nothing more than a symbol that keeps the line of command in check.”

“Never put a rider’s life at risk in order to save one second. It is your job as technicians to create that one second.”

“Technology is like a kitchen knife in anyone’s hand. In the hands of a wife it can whip up delicious food, but in the hands of a bandit it can take someone’s life.”

“In our country, those who tirelessly expend their energy are recognized as hardworking people. Isn’t this distorting the concept of work ethics, and nipping the buds of creative effort?”

“Words and sentences may lie, but a product never does.”

Honda Soichiro, engineer and industrialist, founded Honda R&D in 1946, followed by Honda Motor Company in 1948. He grew his empire from a 20-man company that produced motorcycles to a multi-billion organization recognized worldwide. He also became the first Asian to be listed in the Automotive Hall of Fame. It’s no exaggeration to say that this man’s dedication and passion for technology and creation is ingrained in the Honda culture that has been passed down the generations.

In this age where manufacturing seems to boil down to a ruthless competition and a desire to be of being the fastest or the cheapest, it is nice to know that there are craftsmen out there who truly value the importance of creation. But of course, many of the concepts and principles behind these quotes can be applied to jobs across all industries. Surely the guys at Honda are just a small sample of people who pour love and dedication into what they do? Take a few seconds and show some appreciation to the dedicated everyday heroes around you today!

Source: Naver Matome (Japanese), Reference: Kumamoto Prefecture Website, Wikipedia (all Japanese)
Images: Carscoops, Kumamoto Keizai, President Online, Seinen Chuokai, Tony’s Blog