The SATO Way (summarized)
1. Do it right away
At SATO, we take action immediately. Deciding to do something later when you can do it now means you’re procrastinating. We report the facts right away. Taking time to compile ideas is fine, but everyone needs up-to-date information, so you should report facts immediately. And while acting on decisions is important, what matters more is to check on the spot whether the message was conveyed or not.
2. Be different; if not, be a pioneer
The world is always changing, with ups and downs. If you ride the trends of the time, you will consequently ebb and flow with everyone else. We try to be different in making even the smallest choices in daily life, because that’s what develops a culture of self-reliance and a strong organizational character that is unaffected by the waves of time. And anything we think will be mainstream in the future we should do before others. By the time others jump on the trend, we will have the leisure to think of what's next.
3. Don’t get stuck on formalities
Let’s say that you wanted to consult your superior about your work, but your immediate supervisor and middle managers were all out and the only one around was your senior manager. In SATO, you can go talk to the senior manager. It’s meaningless formality to abide by hierarchical order. It’s more important for the company to do things faster. Cut the formalities, look beyond appearances, and always seek what’s best for the company.
4. Rejoice in change
Adapting to the environment is key to a company’s survival. Economic and social circumstances constantly change, and a company must meet these changes — or rather pioneer changes — in order to succeed. We all know that it’s far easier to stay the same, but we also know that we can’t survive without changing with the times. And if we have to change some time or another, then we might as well start the wind of change ourselves and adapt to the new environment. The instinct to feel comfort in the winds of change is another SATO Way.
5. Go see the customer’s site
Another example of the SATO Way is that we go visit the customer’s site and see things with our own eyes. It means we don’t simply buy into what other people say or their reports on anything; we go and check it ourselves on the spot. We also have the culture of reporting what we see. SATO has an excellent convention of receiving timely, local information at the convenience of our office, but whoever makes the decision must go see the site. Knowledge allows people to make their own decisions and empower themselves. SATO people don’t spare the effort to go visit customer sites and check with their own eyes.
6. Don’t sidestep customer complaints
When we receive a complaint from a customer, we go see the customer straight away, no matter what the reason. If the reps can’t solve the problem, their superiors would go, and the chain could go as high up as the board director. We offer our sincere apologies, and work persistently on the case until the customer’s problem is resolved. Handle the complaint sincerely, and the effort will lead to improvements and lay the groundwork for SATO’s business in the future. It’s what everyone at SATO knows by instinct.
7. Seek challenges on your own
Whether a company grows as a good company or turns bad and dies out depends on how many (or few) people seek challenges on their own. In fact, the important part is not only in seeking issues but more in working on them as your own matter. In this way, you see your job as fun, not pain. It’s more interesting to find new challenges and goals to aim for after you complete a job, even if it may not be the easy way out. Face up to issues, and make your job more exciting on your own — that is the SATO Way.
8. Never give up; be tenacious
SATO people pursue their mission to the very end. There’s a big difference to stopping something thinking you’ve done enough versus continuing something feeling you need to explore further. Teiho requires employees to write not merely on what they saw and noticed but also add their thoughts, which calls on them to hear out more information. These daily efforts of never giving up and working tenaciously add up to another aspect of the SATO Way.
9. The culture of sharing information
Here at SATO, important information that people may feel should be kept internal or made confidential flows freely from employees to top management, and vice versa. Anything important that needs to be notified to everyone will be conveyed vertically and horizontally in all directions, which naturally keeps information objective and fair. Any information misunderstood or factually distorted would also be shared to the many people involved, which would naturally correct it and filter out unnecessary or harmful content. In a culture like this, people develop the custom of conveying facts exactly as they are.
10. Reiterate everything
We at SATO repeat things. The organization has people of different ideas and personalities. Repeating, or rephrasing your message from different angles, is necessary for an organization to reach a common understanding, because communication is not always as easy as "once said is enough." The courage to reiterate is sometimes needed to drive a team in the right direction.
11. “Knowing the site” and writing Teiho reports
At SATO, even the CEO and executive management take every effort to go see customer sites. How is this possible? It’s because we have Teiho. You can’t write a Teiho report just sitting at your desk. You are able to find topics to write about every day because you see the site. And those who read Teiho reports as well as those whom they are forwarded to must go see the site to respond to them. With the Teiho system, SATO exercises the maxim, “The truth is found on-site” — the key to our corporate survival.
12. Small changes and Teiho
At SATO, with our Teiho system, we consider improvements every day and take actions. These changes can start with small-scale, localized issues. By constantly pushing ourselves to make changes not necessarily needed right away, we develop a culture that rejoices in change. In retrospect we will realize we’ve transformed ourselves to adapt to the times. When governments and corporations encounter a crisis, it’s because they were averse to small changes and spent days, months and years checking the current status, which made the problem worse over time. In the future, if SATO is still keeping up with the times, it likely owes to our corporate culture of being positive about change; a culture developed through Teiho.