YKK Stories

2018-03-12 Issue 38 Fundamental Behavior 11 Innovate

February 19, 2019
Author: YKK
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“I missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan

Why am I talking about failure instead of innovation? Because failure is the toll we pay on the path to innovation. Michael Jordan knew that. He lived it. ESPN named Michael Jordan the greatest athlete of the 20th century, and people have a hard time arguing with that (even those from Cleveland). He won an NCAA national title, six NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, was the league’s MVP five times, and was the first professional athlete to become a billionaire. And, no, Spike Lee, it wasn’t the shoes. Before 1987, we simply did not think humans could dunk from the free throw line. Jordan was an innovator. He changed the game. He succeeded in doing so because he was not afraid to fail.

Our founder, Tadao Yoshida, may not have been as tall as Michael Jordan, but he had the same spirit and the same drive to innovate, even if it risked failure. He cemented this principle in the first tenet of our Core Values, which is, “Do not fear failure.” I love how we continue this spirit of innovation throughout our organization. I am amazed at the way our teammates are continuously looking to improve on what we offer our customers and how we bring them those products. I see innovation every day at YKK, which is another reason I am so optimistic about our future.

Innovation can be found in every single aspect of our business. It is not just done in a lab. In fact, the critical innovations are more often found on the factory floor or in an administrator’s office. What is most exciting to think about is that there are countless more innovations out there waiting for us to bring forward. So, please, go ahead and ask yourself, “What if?” And when that solution comes to you, bring it to life. What have you got to lose? Tadao Yoshida would tell you, “Failure is the tuition you pay for success,” and Michael Jordan would say, “You miss 100% of the shots you do not take.”


Jim Reed
YKK Corporation of America