YKK Stories

2017-10-16 Issue 19 Fundamental Behavior 18 – Take Ownership

February 19, 2019
Author: YKK
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I encourage you to read the explanation shown above for Fundamental Behavior #18, “Take ownership.” Those sentences pretty much say everything that I want to say. It’s all about taking personal responsibility.

Isn’t it refreshing to see someone exhibit personal responsibility these days? Too often we see people doing just the opposite: blaming others for everything that happens in their lives, throwing trash onto the ground for someone else to pick up, or sitting around waiting for someone else to take action. Taking ownership is when someone stops to pick up some trash in our factory or on the sidewalk for no reason other than to make the world a slightly better place. Multiply those acts by almost 8 billion people and our world would be a much cleaner place in which to live.

So many of our efforts at YKK and YKK AP to be good corporate citizens depend on everyone’s ownership of our goals. For example, how can we keep the environment clean unless everyone pitches in (pun intended!)? How can we be accident-free without 100% participation? The obvious answer is that we cannot succeed unless everyone — including you — takes ownership.

I would like to ask everyone to think about your work area to see if there is anything you can do to straighten the area up, or to make it a little safer or more comfortable. We all see situations where there are things that need to be done, but no one wants to step forward, so nothing happened until someone — maybe the same person who always volunteers — says, “I’ve got this” or “I’ll do it.”

People notice who takes personal responsibility without being constantly asked or reminded. Life seems to reward people with this helpful approach to personal responsibility and personal leadership. I would call this style “servant leadership” or simply putting others ahead of ourselves. And it’s very consistent with our Cycle of Goodness philosophy.

What do we lose by taking ownership? Well, I guess we lose the little bit of time that it takes to go the extra mile. And we might end up with hands that are a little dirtier than they would have been otherwise. But it is clear to me that the benefits far exceed any downside to showing a little bit of initiative. Don’t you agree?

I especially like the words, “If you see it, own it and make sure it gets done. Don’t make excuses.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all lived our lives this way? At the bare minimum, this approach is essential when it comes to having a safe workplace. If you see something unsafe, you own it. Think how badly you would feel if you saw a slick, wet floor, for example, and you didn’t say or do anything … and someone fell. I know I would feel guilty, and I think you would, too.

We can also tie this week’s Fundamental Behavior to FB #16, “Provide meaningful appreciation.” When we witness someone taking ownership, especially when they don’t know anyone is watching, we should express our appreciation for their selfless act. And then we should pay if forward with our own good deed of the day.

Those last words, “good deed,” triggered a memory from a long time ago. Do you remember when you were in the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or church and you were required to perform a certain number of good deeds … anonymously? Doing it anonymously was the hard part for most of us because we would not get any credit for it. What a waste of our effort! We enjoyed having adults tell us what good boys and girls we were. But then when we did our good deeds anonymously, we experienced a different emotion, which was the joy in doing something just because it needed to be done and someone other than ourselves would benefit from it. We learned to take ownership. If you see something out of place, please put it where it belongs; if you see something unsafe, please fix it or report it; and if you find something someone has lost, please return it or turn it in. Make someone’s day a little better, and do it for all the right reasons.

It would make me so happy if everyone would read this week’s FB #18 very carefully (like you do every week!), engage in discussions about it, and then in the days ahead, seek opportunities to take ownership in a situation where you may not have taken ownership previously. I would sincerely love to hear or read about your real-life experiences where something good came out of this week’s discussion of “Take ownership.”



Alex Gregory
Chairman and CEO
YKK Corporation of America