Saturday, March 15, 2014

Year of Japan story

The year of Japan series continues at Kennesaw State with a lecture from the president of Honda motor manufacturing in Alabama, Tom Shouppe. Shouppe recently got promoted to chief operating officer of Honda North America starting April 1 and previously served as Senior Vice President of Honda of America Manufacturing and has been with Honda since 1988.

The Japanese concept heard often amongst those involved with Honda is Monozukuri, or the art of making things. The motive at Honda motor manufacturing in Alabama is to mold and advance the skills of individuals into a cohesive and successful team. Shouppe, being a baseball fan, used a quote from notable Reds manager Sparky Anderson that the players make the manager, never the other way around. "I think that's very very instructive advice as we consider a topic such as monozukuri and in particular the idea of craftsmanship and innovation." Shouppe said "At Honda, we really view our main business is about people. And the people define who we are and what we are." Associates at Honda are expected to perform to the best of their ability and the notion of craftsmanship deeply understanding what it means to achieve the highest levels of quality for each customer. Honda's foundation in North America was built on associates learn to focus on customer service with a high level of teamwork as well as a passion for overcoming challenges.  

Thirty years ago, hundreds of experienced engineers from Japan came to Ohio and shared ideas and experiences to make the "Honda Way" work in North America with a conglomeration in Ohio. What was learned was transferred to Alabama, where the creation of the Honda Odyssey had it's start.   The knowledge that was transferred has been transferred across America with each generation having the same values, sticking to what they call "The Honda Way" or "Honda Philosophy". Honda will change everything about their company to keep up with the current times and to stay competitive, but one thing they are adamant on never changing is their core values, which are held as the most important element of their work force and also utilizing a Monozukuri spirit. The core values are based around respect for the individual, and the individual's ability and willingness to challenge with their own ideas and their own passion, creating the mindset in associates to constantly question and attempt to innovate.  "This makes in many ways the Honda Way or the culture that we've tried to establish a much bigger challenge, but it also creates a bigger opportunity in terms of innovation, growth, and maturity of our people." Shouppe said "So we think for the long term good of the company that this approach is appropriate for us."

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