Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No. 28: A small big company in the medical instrument industry (June 20, 2012)

Mani, Inc. is not a big company in terms of sales and capital, but it is a big company in the medical instrument industry in terms of presence. It is the leading manufacturer of suture needles for surgical operation and extra fine medical instruments for dental surgery. Since it was established in 1959, it has been concentrating its management resources on developing and marketing suture needles in pursuit of the highest quality and the largest share in the world market.

All executives, development managers, and marketing managers get together in the head office two times a year to compare its products with competitive products from around the world. Participants examine all products submitted for the discussion by market segment. If Mani’s product is No. 1 in quality and share, the question will be “What we should do to widen the margin between the follower and us.” If Mani’s product is No. 2 or below No. 2, the question will be “What measures we should work out to catch up with and beat No. 1.” It is very simple, but the simplicity is the key to any strategy as we learned from Jack Welch of General Electric.

The company develops only products that enable it to become the world leader, and holds a meeting every month to study whether or not the product can be the world leader in the future and whether or not the current development approach is right. Management staffs always ask themselves, “Does the market really need this product?” This is a very important question because engineers mostly tend to assume that the products they are developing will be in great demand in the market. Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic, once asked his brilliant engineers, “Do you really think that customers will be happy with your product?” at the end of the product presentation that they delivered with great confidence and emotional excitement. That’s it.

This company declared that it will not be a family company in the future, though it is a family company at present. It does not allow children and relatives of management staffs to join the company. Saying is one thing, doing another. Every company starts with a family company. Neither Mitsubishi nor Toyota is an exception. In some day in the course of development, a company has to say goodbye to family management. Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motor, did not allow his son to join his company. Talking about his successor, he asked his management to search an eligible among all employees. If you cannot find an eligible, search him throughout Japan. And if you cannot find an eligible in Japan, find some one all round the world. This story alone is enough to show how great he was. 

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