YKK Stories

2018-05-28 Issue 49 Fundamental Behavior 22 Take Pride In Our Appearance

February 19, 2019
Author: YKK
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Mr. Miyamoto is a friend of mine. He recently retired from YKK Corporation, but those of you lucky enough to have met him know what a cool guy he is. When I first met him, he was in charge of environmental compliance and he was coming all the way from Japan to the U.S. to audit our facilities. We had had some challenges in the past and Mr. Miyamoto was there to make sure we had our act together. We were all very nervous. We had no idea what to expect. As we followed him around, we quickly realized he was not just auditing our compliance with environmental regulations, he was auditing how we cared for our facilities.

Our small crew followed closely behind Miyamoto-san like ducklings as he walked the floor. He checked the typical environmental hot spots, like satellite accumulation areas and hazardous materials storage, but most of our time was spent looking at everything else. If a piece of paper was carelessly left crumpled in the corner, he walked over and picked it up and put it in the garbage. If used rags overflowed the used rag bin, he would clean up the rags. If a broom was left out, he grabbed it and put it back in the closet. And if the closet was a mess, he would straighten it up before we moved on. He commented on dirty floors. We spent about thirty minutes at the back wall of one facility while he politely criticized the sloppy jumble of phone wires leading to the main telecommunications junction box.

After three days of this, I think we all understood the lesson. We have the responsibility to take care of all aspects of our workspace. If we let our factory or workspace get sloppy and disordered, then our commitment to production quality and safety and environmental compliance will erode. Let the sloppiness continue, eventually we will make a mistake that ends up hurting someone or leading to the creation of defective product.

Taking pride in your appearance is not vain. Whether it is what you wear, how you comb your hair (if you have any), or how you manage the space in which you work, it is an exercise in self-respect that has real implications. First, having an ordered workspace feels good. You have a sense of control and quiet satisfaction. Second, it makes you more efficient. A jumbled desk or work station is chaotic, and a messy area makes it harder for you to concentrate and to find things quickly. Finally, others will respect you more. We are influenced by the impressions others make on us. Fair or not, we have different impressions of people who keep themselves and their desks or work stations clean and neat as compared to those who work in a chaotic mess. Think about the last time you went to visit your doctor. Did the office have an impression on you? Did the doctor’s demeanor, manner, and dress leave an impression? Of course they did. By that same token, if a customer or auditor comes to inspect us and sees a neat and ordered facility, she will be left with a more favorable impression and will be more inclined to look favorably on our operations. Thank you, Mr. Miyamoto. We were paying attention.


Jim Reed
YKK Corporation of America