Print Feb 10, 2017

【MOL CHART-Chart of the global business operations】(Part 1) / Setting a course towards creating a feeling of unity

In April 2015, MOL established MOL CHART, which contains the values shared within the group. We talked with several people involved about the background and objectives of creating MOL CHART, as well as the reaction of employees around the world.

“When formulating the values, some people in Japan initially felt, ‘Do they really need to be put into words?’” revealed Human Resources Division Manager Miwako Ando as she looked back on the creation of MOL CHART.

Prior to establishing MOL CHART, the corporate philosophy and long-term vision already existed as the general principles shared within the MOL group.

“However, I think many staff members likely felt that both are a little too vague when thinking about daily operations. MOL CHART began as an initiative to set a course of action with more focus on daily operations instead of only when making big decisions.”(Ando)

■Hard times present the best opportunities

The idea of establishing the values within MOL actually arose back in 2004. When the core employees of overseas subsidiaries who were invited to the MOL COLLEGE for training were asked what words represent MOL, they offered up Challenge, Humane and Heritage. After asking the same thing to customers, executive officers and employees, we started to think about the words that we had gathered. However, there was also a concern that everyone would become satisfied just by establishing the values and they would become hollow over time, and as the company’s performance remained volatile, the real discussions about putting the values into words never advanced. In the midst of this, China’s steel demand rose and the dry bulk market entered the historic boom period.

Naoto Umehara, who currently works as the Labor Relations and Planning Group Leader and person in charge of global personnel, was involved in the values project at the Human Resources Division and looks back on the atmosphere then.

“Inside the company, there was a mood of ‘don’t keep customers waiting! Get the ships moving!’ with everyone busy carrying out the work in front of them. It was a time when there was a risk that the younger employees might lose sight of the meaning of working at MOL and what constitutes proper MOL work.”

Shortly thereafter, the Lehman Shock occurred, the bottom fell out of the market and the current downturn in the shipping market started.

As the volatility in the shipping market continued, there was a change at the MOL group. In Japan, following the changes in how information is conveyed due to the spread of the Internet, communication became more candid and terse. In addition, the work styles, including the increased utilization of female employees, became more diverse in response to the requirements of the current age.

Also, on the global scale, the roles of the local staff working in the overseas subsidiaries, known as national staff internally, increased. As the cargo origins and destinations became more diverse as a result of increased foreign customers and Japanese customers’ expansion overseas, there was rapid increase in the opportunities employees who had never worked at the head office to interact with customers as a representative of MOL and sell MOL services.

“The intangible values of the company had been passed down through a wide range of ways, including training, daily operations, and even over drinks after work. However, the generation had changed and there was an increase in the national staff. In light of the more diverse composition of group employees, we realized that it was necessary to make the intangible visible.” (Umehara)

■Scent of the sea

There were three requisites for the words to be incorporated in the values. They needed to be words that “can be understood by people from diverse countries and cultures,” “are easy to remember” and “representative of shipping lines.”

“We referred to the third requisite as ‘are scented with the sea.’ Because we were trying to ‘set a course for the daily work,’ which is similar to the charts used for navigation, we decided to use the word CHART.”

Umehara and the other members of the Human Resources Division decided on the candidate words by ‘flipping through the dictionary’ (Umehara) based on the comments received from customers and with priority on the many responses obtained in the employee questionnaire. For example, for ‘C,’ the words confidence, creativity and customer came up as candidates. After that, multiple discussions were held, and finally, the 5 words still in use today were decided.

■“Vector” innovation

However, there was another hurdle to be crossed that included the involvement of executive officers.

According to Ando, “When the strong sense of individuality within MOL collided, while affirming the diversity, MOL CHART needed to provide an awareness that ‘if only this vector was shared, the diversity would become a driving force.’ Given this, by adding a phrase that represents MOL’s unique interpretation of the word, such as ‘Innovate through insight’ for Challenge, effort was made to make the vector more easy to envision.”

Of these, for example with phrase ‘foster the next generation’ used for Teamwork, it is possible to see that the message is strongly oriented towards the national staff.

“From the European and western career perspective, communicating know-how to colleagues and others in the same profession is not customary. Even for the concept of ‘foster,’ the way of going about it varies in each country. By including ‘foster’ as part of ‘Teamwork,’ our intent was to link it to improving the underlying capabilities of the human resources in each country.” (Umehara)

Ando states that the challenge of establishing MOL CHART led her to realize that the project actually involved relooking at the increasing diversity at MOL.

“Just looking at the training of national staff, it is no longer possible for Japanese staff to travel abroad to provide the training. I want MOL CHART to function as a tool for cultivating a sense of unity within the MOL group in this new age in which employees with a wide range of attributes at the various MOL businesses around the world interact with each other.” (Ando)