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Workstyle Reforms Roundtable Discussion


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MOL Group Advances 'Workstyle Reforms'

MOL established the Improvement of Work Efficiency Committee in September 2016, categorized items to be addressed into short-term, mid-term, and long-term, and started the reforms.
President & CEO Ikeda assumed chairmanship of the committee in April 2017, and since then, we have moved ahead with our efforts under the slogan "Smart ON! Smart OFF!"
To think about future "workstyle reforms," five members - young, mid-career, and management-level employee, the president & CEO, and the executive officer responsible for workstyle reforms - got together and discussed current issues and how to address them, from the point of view of each position.

Discussion Held on May 9, 2017

Junichiro Ikeda (President & CEO) / Kayo Ichikawa (Executive Officer, responsible for work efficiency improvement) / Hirohiko Okada (Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (Japan), Ltd., General Manager) / Masatake Yamamoto (Tanker Safety Management Office, Manager) / Yasuo Matsunaga (Corporate Planning Division, Manager) / Shunichiro Fushiya (General Affairs Division, Assistant Manager) / Rumi Tomizawa (Dry Bulk Carrier Division (A), 4 years since joined MOL) / [Facilitator] Hideki Takahashi (Scholar Consult Co., Ltd.)

Objectives and Initiatives
Objectives of MOL's "workstyle reforms" are to "increase our personnel's competitiveness and realize innovation through a corporate culture that allows employees to work with vigor and enthusiasm." This is based on a concept that requires free thinking unencumbered by traditional views and a culture and organizational capabilities that foster an environment of unfettered creativity, in addition to accomplishing current essential work with higher efficiency, upon realizing "the vision 10 years from now." MOL will improve hourly output, set aside hours to perform innovative business operations(*) that are not tied to traditional ways, achieve targets, and at the same time, work to create a corporate culture that allows all employees to gain fulfillment from their work.
(*) Global business, strategy-oriented, value innovation, etc.

Issues to be Addressed

Short-term : Reforms of traditional methods of work such as management of meetings, reporting of information, filing
Mid-term : Reform of personnel system, proactive use of IT, renovation of office layout
Long-term : Improvement of individual operational abilities and skills/promoting a wider view of things, creation of a corporate culture allowing the exercise of innovation and creativity

Hirohiko Okada
General Manager
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (Japan), Ltd

Okada: A good point of our company is that employees are entrusted with assignments early in their careers and undertake those assignments responsibly, as I did. However, in recent years, it tends to put more weight on processes, and I sometimes worry whether young employees can proactively express their opinions. We need to create a foundation in which their managers are eager to listen to their opinions. Therefore, I think vitalization of communication is the most effective way.
In addition, I realize that "workstyle reforms" are not only for the company, but also for individuals.

Shunichiro Fushiya
Assistant Manager
General Affairs Division

Fushiya: I feel that the sense of distance among individuals at MOL is very close regardless of the hierarchical relationship. I myself was just assigned to the current division, so I want to directly meet colleagues and talk with them so that we can get to know each other. But face-to-face communication requires people to be together in a certain time and place, although it is easier to convey detail and nuance. So I think it is important to optimize communication by combining face-to-face talks with email, social media, and so on.
However, we tend to contact different divisions just by email. If we strive for well-balanced communication, the corporate culture and environment will become even better since the company has already has a good foundation.

Rumi Tomizawa
Dry Bulk Carrier Division (A)
4 years since joined MOL

Tomizawa: There is a "minister of workstyle reforms" in the Dry Bulk Carrier Division (A), where I am assigned. The minister produces e-mail magazines, organizes information collected in the division, and encourages us to realize higher priority ideas. However, we have issues to be addressed, too. We need to secure time away from our daily assignments to realize some of those priority ideas. Therefore, I want to ask our managers to get involved and create a balance with our existing assignments. We, as employees, will come to like the company and enjoy working here. We also seek to gain a sense of fulfillment by working for society. In my case, a spirit of "Let's do our best!" can emerge if people listen to one of my ideas and someone tells me "Let's do that!"

Masatake Yamamoto
Tanker Safety Management Office

Yamamoto: I felt motivating people to improve meant providing continuous instruction and support when I was assigned to onboard operations as a crewmember. Because all crewmembers are working toward the goals of safe operation and operational efficiency, I felt that they did not have a mindset of providing new ideas and opinions for improvement to make operations more efficient. However, when I gave specific instructions on how to improve and by what process, even young crewmembers were engaged in making operations more efficient. Styles of work are different between jobs at sea and on land, but I thought it was important to clearly show them the process of bringing an idea to fruition and support them.
In my current onshore assignment as a maritime officer, I see the difficulty of reforms. For example, we had a project to develop robots to support onboard crewmembers. We put our heads together to come up with various ideas. We selected several ideas and started thinking about how we could make the progression. However, we were instructed that the people who proposed the selected ideas had to realize the project. I understand the intention to create a workplace that allows efforts on such initiatives on a daily basis, but they already have daily duties and it would require considerable time to take responsibility for the project in their spare time. At the time, I felt it is a little different that "the person who comes up with ideas" must also be "the person who executes them".

Yasuo Matsunaga
Corporate Planning Division

Matsunaga: I have a lot of empathy with Mr. Yamamoto's story. I think they would welcome being told "You don't have to do the current tasks. We will entrust you with the new project," when they have so many other things to do.
I think the entire view will be increased by clarifying the goal of "workstyle reforms" and sharing it company-wide. "Workstyle reforms" encompass a wide range of themes, so maybe it is better to divide them into Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III. Put the reforms into practice by having empathy for other people and their ideas. Thus, it is important to accumulate success stories.

Junichiro Ikeda
President & CEO

Ikeda: I have two points I thought of while listening to your comments.
First, there are still a few cases in which you come up with ideas and they are implemented. I always mention my desire to create a corporate culture in which everyone can share their opinions freely. However, after all, it is not interesting or fun to come up with ideas alone. It is important to create the process that will put those ideas into tangible form.
Second, what should we do at the top management level to create new value? One extreme suggestion is that we drop 20 of 100 assignments we are doing now, and do 20 new assignments that create higher value. New value cannot be created without a high level of preparedness. We cannot survive without a strong determination to "change." Top management must carefully evaluate those who want to move into the ranks of management, and hope that they have ideas that will help us change.

Kayo Ichikawa
Executive Officer
Responsible for work efficiency improvement

Ichikawa: The "workstyle reforms" started as a company-wide project, but we cannot accomplish it in a short term and must continue for an extremely long term, what seems like an eternity. In this sense, it is important to voluntarily, continually make improvement that are close to home for all members, first toward achievement of their division targets.
Company-wide projects are also individual projects. I hope the accumulation of small efforts – "I want change. I can do this" – will expand throughout the entire company and this will become a big wave.
On the other hand, it needs to be deployed in a top-down fashion, for example, making internal rules and reforms of the personnel system. We will also work to create a system that can develop good examples horizontally across divisions.
The ideals are: Everyone always comes up with ideas and creates new values even if there is neither a system nor projects - I will create such a corporate culture and foundation as a part of the company.

Comment from Facilitator

Hideki Takahashi
Scholar Consult Co., Ltd

Takahashi: Important terms are: "Sense of ownership" and "independence." "Independence" means proactively getting others more involved, while "sense of ownership" means how I personally get motivated. A large organization requires a "sense of ownership." Therefore, you must create mutual communication with each other, and step into a "sense of ownership."
I expect that with efforts based on those terms, you will create ideas that serve a dual purpose, and foster a corporate culture with vigor and enthusiasm by continuing those efforts, which will improve individual members' operational abilities and skills and broaden their viewpoints.

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