"Maintaining an international viewpoint, we are dedicated to supplying products of the highest efficiency, yet at reasonable prices, for worldwide customer satisfaction." (1956)
This was printed in the Honda Company News No. 23, published in January 1956.
Together with the Company Principle, it also contained "Corporate Management Policy." Both of these remain the source texts for the present statement of corporate objectives and operating policy.
The "Three Joys" that express Hondas fundamental philosophy were first published in the Honda Monthly of December 1951. The Company Principle was adopted in January 1956, and much of their language was based on an essay by Soichiro Honda that had been carried in the Honda Monthly.
Some of the Honda veterans remember their first impression of these statements.
"I thought, they've come up with splendid Company Principle," said Kihachiro Kawashima. "That's what I honestly felt at the time. However, I don't recall whether it was posted anywhere in the company. I think it probably wasn't. Compared with the time when I entered the company, Honda had grown very large. Still, we had been hearing similar statements from Mr. Honda for a long time. 'It's no good just looking at this little Japan; look at the world,' and 'The value of a product is in the customer's enjoyment of it,' and things like that. Those things were set down very properly, and also somewhat awkwardly. For all that, though, we often carry the idea too far, and end up missing the mark of quality goods and reasonable prices."
"That Company Principle was the Old Man himself," said Kiyoshi Kawashima. "The operating policy was also from him. What he said was about making tomorrow's products for the customer, but we would often carry things too far, deviating from the Company Principle and that was the problem. Including the time of the Honda Technical Research Institute, his batting average for those 25 years was low. He either hit a home run or was struck out," he continued, laughing. "Mr. Kihachiro Kawashima and his colleagues would say to me, 'This is awful, we can't sell this. The customers haven't advanced that far yet.' However, I played a role in that myself. The foundation for our thinking, though, was laid down very well by the Old Man. That's where my generation learned how to go with tomorrow's products a little bit more skillfully. However, if we hadn't experienced that bold failure, and if we had only been building that day's products, I think Honda would have been a shrimpy little company that probably would have disappeared. If the Old Man's objective had been to be Number One in Japan, and he had taken a Japanese perspective, I have no doubt that today's Honda would not exist."
"In those days I was young and impetuous," reminisced Hideo Sugiura. "I was impudent, and I tended to be very critical of anyone who made a slip in expressing himself. When I read this, however, it was direct, simple, specific, and all in all, it wasn't such a beautiful statement of Company Principle that I would want to frame and hang it on the living room wall. I think that the passage about taking a ‘international viewpoint’ might have been somewhat of an overstatement, considering Honda's position at that time. However, that was really how the top management thought, and they were seriously attempting to put it into action. When young people like me watched our seniors acting that way and listened to them talking that way, we would get caught up in it and start doing it ourselves.
"The Old Man said what he thought from the bottom of his being and with everything he had. We were just young kids, and when he talked like that, we tended to pick it up from him and go along. The people who were young and able to follow his thinking - like Mr. Kiyoshi Kawashima, Mr. Kihachiro Kawashima, Mr. Nishida, and Mr. Shirai - stuck with the Old Man and Mr. Fujisawa, and that's how Honda's roots were formed. I mean the roots of its culture."
"I thought it was really easy to understand," recalled Kimio Shinmura. "Of course, I was one of those people who saw the cutting-edge machinery in a run-down factory building and wanted to join the company so much that I left my first job in midstream to come here. I look back now that I'm retired and realize that no other place had such a fine statement of Company Principle, and I'm impressed all over again.
"It required tremendous insight to create that statement of Company Principle. I don't think that any of the other major companies have anything similar. And then there were the 'Three Joys' with their very down-to-earth language that was even easier to relate to. There are many companies that use the Japanese character 'wa,' or peace and harmony, as a kind of decorative element in their statements of corporate objectives, but I ask you, is any company going to prosper just with peace and harmony?"
These were some of the reactions to the Company Principle among the employees at Honda then. They responded to different nuances, but everyone agreed that Honda's daily life had been transformed into that statement of Company Principle.