Message from the President
Ricoh will accommodate change, promote innovation, and continue working for the benefit of society and the Earth.
Ricoh generates new value from the interaction between people and information.
Ricoh continues focusing its efforts on protecting our Earth and building a sustainable society in this constantly-changing and challenging global market.
Our relief activities in areas affected by the Higashi Nihon Daishinsai (The Great East Japan Earthquake) that occurred on March 11, 2011
After the first decade of the 21st century, businesses are increasingly expected to think and act for the benefit of society and the Earth. Just as we entered the second decade, a disastrous earthquake hit the Tohoku region. Let me first of all take this opportunity to express my deep sympathies to all the people affected. We sincerely hope that your lives are made secure and that you recover from the disaster as soon as possible.
Ricoh Group set up a recovery task force at headquarters immediately after the earthquake to carry out organizational relief activities in line with its basic policy of providing aid to disasteraffected areas.
Two days after the earthquake hit the region, we announced a total of 300 million yen in aid for municipal governments affected by the disaster and NPOs engaged in relief activities. This aid included emergency supplies, such as battery-powered printers and waterproof and dustproof digital cameras, which we delivered promptly by utilizing our logistics network.
The disaster also caused damage to Ricoh's buildings and manufacturing facilities of its strategically important subsidiaries that supply products and parts around the world, including Tohoku Ricoh, Hasama Ricoh, and Ricoh Optical Industries. However, thanks to the dedicated efforts of employees and staff, restoration of these facilities was completed on April 15 and we were able to resume all operations. When I visited the plants and saw the manufacturing lines running, I was impressed by and felt proud of our employees' determination to protect their workplaces and their untiring efforts, without which such an early restoration would not have been possible. Each office has also started its own relief activities that include fundraising and supplying relief goods. I am proud of Ricoh employees and staff who promptly initiated relief efforts. Soon after the disaster we have also received messages of encouragement from employees of Ricoh Group companies around the world. In their communications, I find that a strong bond exists among the 110,000 employees of the Ricoh Group, which I found very encouraging.
In addition to short-term relief supplies, the Ricoh Group considers it important to provide longer-term continuous support by promoting employment in affected areas. To meet this goal, we are discussing a plan to construct a new recycling plant in the Tohoku region. Our belief is that the primary objective of corporate social responsibility is to work for people and society through our business activities. The Ricoh Group's philosophy is "The Spirit of Three Loves," a phrase advocated by Kiyoshi Ichimura, the founder of the Ricoh Group in the chaotic post World War II period to emphasize the importance of dedication to country and society and to encourage employees to work together for the benefit of society. Based on this philosophy, all our Group companies are determined to make concerted efforts to find new hope and fulfillment in the midst of this national catastrophe.
Imagining the future life of our customers and bringing innovation
The history of Ricoh since its foundation has been one of constant innovation. I understand the meaning of innovation as "creating and providing new value that is truly needed by our customers and society." I started my career as a developer of technology. While it is of course important to improve existing technologies, I believe that there exists new value that cannot be generated merely by technological improvement. For example, no matter what improvements you make to cassette tapes, you cannot create CDs. Even if you go to an airport and ask a business person what kind of problems he or she has, you cannot come up with the idea of videoconferencing to replace flying to meetings. Innovation is creating future customer value through technological innovation and providing it to customers.
Imagination plays an important role in developing innovation: you have to have a vision of how your customers' future will change. For example, in the future it may not be necessary to commute to work. If you work at home instead of commuting every day to the office, for what reason will employees need to come to the office? They may need to show up at the office for a meeting, but not for work. If this "officeless" trend becomes the norm, there will be fewer opportunities for employees to see each other. It will then become more important for them to communicate with each other. What kind of tools and devices would then be necessary to make this officeless work environment comfortable? I call a product that starts from a small idea "a grain of sand." Ricoh is now generating grains of sand one by one. They may seem to be distributed randomly, but when combined with the glue of network, they are made into concrete objects, and it is these objects that will present an image of a future office.
Ricoh manufactures printers and multifunctional copiers but I do not think we should be content to remain a manufacturer. The highest priority in our business should not be put on our products but on the users of our products. We need to be aware of how relationships and the interaction between people and information is changing, and it is important to use our imagination to see what the future could look like for our customers. Through active involvement in a changing world, rather than just passive observation, we can add new value to the world. Manufacturing products that meet future needs ahead of times will enhance Ricoh's corporate value. I believe that opportunity lies in change.
Contributing to society and being fostered by society
As a global company, we keep an eye on the future and shape the future. We cannot shape the future on a global scale unless we get involved in current issues at the local level through our business. In emerging countries, for instance, they sell batterypowered TV sets. This is because of the frequent power outages. I think it is important for Ricoh to develop products that meet local needs. Most products originate in the Earth, and are made out of our common assets. If such products are owned exclusively by the people of the developed countries, the future of this planet will be limited. Ricoh is focusing its efforts on creating more opportunities for people to receive the benefits of our Earth.
The creation of local employment opportunities may play a role in these efforts. The BOP project in India is one example that developed out of our belief that items produced locally should be consumed locally. In this project, Ricoh's employees stay in a farming village on a long-term basis in order to understand local needs. What lies behind this project is our wish to "work for the benefit of local communities." In India, the old and the new exist side by side haphazardly, and lifestyles and the standard of living differ significantly from region to region. It is our hope that providing continued assistance with improving this kind of situation through our business activities will enable as many people as possible can live a comfortable life. We are now considering launching a new project that developed out of an idea that would never have occurred to someone not living there.
We must remember that our society forms the fabric of our existence. For this reason, our mission is to serve local communities through our activities. Our reward is in knowing that stakeholders in different communities around the world support Ricoh and need what our company can offer.
Developing into a global brand involves meeting the high expectations people have that we will grow and become even more successful.
In the business market, there is a growing need to reduce the use of paper. The reason behind this demand is an increasing awareness on the part of our customers of the importance of reducing environmental impact wherever possible. Ricoh provides products and services that have a low impact on the environment and that also help our customers to reduce their own environmental impact when using our products. When we satisfy all the individual needs of our customers, we will deserve their support and continue to grow as a company.
I believe that a global company should develop together with society by meeting people's needs around the world and by continuously proposing the new value that is needed to develop a sustainable society. This is how we can develop as a respected enterprise. Ricoh does business in about 180 countries around the world. Our efforts as a global company will continue to be focused on creating value that benefits the economy, society and the environment. We want to be recognized as a brand that people around the world prefer and trust through technological innovation and innovation that creates new business models.
I think that the employees of a truly global company can build their careers through activities that transcend national borders and regions and can thus create their own future. Individuals who make untiring effort to change, managers of organizations and human resources who help employees become more motivated and improve team productivity, and leaders with the ability to innovate. if these kinds of people continue to pursue business operations in competitive and constantly-changing global markets regardless of past successes, Ricoh will be able to make positive changes. To further accelerate progress toward becoming a truly global company, I want to encourage every one of Ricoh's employees to engage in business that to transcends national and regional boundaries and to see their own growth and the growth of the company as one thing. I believe this will inject new energy into society and make them feel proud to work for Ricoh.
Spreading the notion of acting in harmony with the Earth and society to Ricoh Group's employees around the world
In 2011, which is a turning point for many reasons, Ricoh established "The RICOH Way" to restate its determination to work in a way that is in harmony with the Earth and society more than ever before. The RICOH Way consists of guidelines based on "The Spirit of Three Loves" with emphasis on sustainable development for both the Earth and society. Serving society is precisely what our corporate philosophy "The Spirit of Three Loves represents: love your neighbor, love your country, and love your work." To convert this into present value, we need to add our responsibility for providing new value to our customers, and more importantly, protecting our precious Earth and building a sustainable society.
Our wish to spread this corporate philosophy widely among Ricoh Group's employees around the world is to encourage each one of them to play an active role as a member of a global company. I believe that to act in ways that take into account the future of our customers and transcend the framework of our job descriptions will help Ricoh in its restructuring efforts. In order to motivate employees to take an active role, we should offer them psychological support and show them what attitude they should take in their business activities. I believe that The RICOH Way will serve as a compass for Ricoh Group's employees in sailing out onto the open sea and create new customer value.
- *This article is based on an interview conducted on April 27, 2011.