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The sayings of Akio Morita - A Textbook for the Heart



Aiming for Gains in Competition and Cooperation.You Can Do Anything if You Try!

I like skiing! I like golf, but I like skiing even more. Skiing is unlike golf because there is no score, so there is no winning or losing. Yet the thrill is fulfilling. Once I start down the slope, there is no relaxing my senses even for an instant. If I lose concentration, I end up falling and sliding several meters. This is very frightening. But, I want to look like a pro skiing and that is why I always think to myself, "courage! Courage!" while I ski.

Being a professional athlete is also becoming more and more difficult. No longer is simply being fast of strong simply enough. Athletes need some kind of appeal in addition to being "tough" or "good looking." Without something more than mere ability, athletes lose the support of their fans.

The same can be said of business. Actually, business is even more severe. First, there are always competitors and players who do not move first lose. Everyone must continually run at full speed. It is a race against time. For instance, money lost may be regained, but time lost is gone forever. What is even more difficult is the fact that simply putting all one's energy into increasing profits is not enough to achieve good results, just like being fast is not enough to be successful at sports.

Last autumn, I was very pleased by the results from the survey done by Landor Associates, a survey company that reported that "Sony is the most highly regarded company." This was not only the result of winning products and outstanding achievements, but also because people have a good feeling toward Sony as a company. Sony achieved its current position due to the ceaseless efforts of Sony employees around the world and their families - those who comprise our Sony Family. It is to these individuals that I wish to offer my deepest appreciation.

However, I have one related concern. Since Sony is so highly regarded, it makes me wonder why Japan - a country that supplies the world with "advanced" products - is the object of continued bashing. This is something we should think about. If Sony is highly regarded, it would make sense for people to have a sense of trust toward Japan. However, the reason this has not happened is because something is lacking the would give rise to a relationship built on trust.

What is necessary to build a relationship of trust? I have considered various perspectives, but keep coming back to "cooperation." One must get along and compete fairly with others. However, although talking about "fairness" or "cooperation" is easy, carrying out these ideals is not easy. Getting along well with others requires patience. The international society of today is not forgiving. You cannot expect others to compromise if you are not willing to compromise yourself.

It is important to understand the other party's position and explain things in terms they understand. Without this, there can be no understanding and cooperation by the other party. For some reason, this sort of communication is not Japan's forte.

Now, Sony is seen as Japan's top player. Therefore, criticism against Japan becomes criticism against Sony and the reverse is also true. In realizing this, each and every member of the Sony Family must be aware that they bear an extremely vital mission and responsibility.

The Sony Family worldwide is comprised of people with different histories, traditions and customs - all working together under the Sony banner. Surely, they have ways of thinking and behaving which are inherently different from those of Japanese people. Asians, Europeans and Americans have told me that, "It is hard to work with Japanese."

Strengthening this unity of Sony Family members is the first step toward cooperation.

Strengthening the unity may require the patience of Japanese members. Japan, which has become one of the major economic powers, must not forget that "modesty is a virtue." Sony requires each employee and family member reading this to undertake such efforts.

Maintaining our leading position while achieving a balance between competition and cooperation is difficult. This will be a major challenge for Sony's future. This will likely require new management strategies and models to meet the needs of each new era. Although I have confidence in Sony's technological innovation, there are still many things we must endeavor to achieve in terms of management reforms and sales innovations. Top management cannot meet these challenges alone no matter how hard we try. The cooperation of every Family member is needed.

My motto is "you can do anything if you try." In order to achieve real gains in terms of cooperation and competition, I would like to ask everyone to work together and see this through!

( "Family" January 1991)

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