• “Suriawase gijutsu” – the art of craftsmanship

    Wednesday Morning Welcome by John Clark, president,

    North American Sales Division, Aisin Group

     [SAE World Congress, April 13, 2016]

    Good morning everyone. Welcome to SAE World Congress 2016 – Wednesday edition.

    You know, more than a year ago, Toyota, the host of this year’s World Congress, announced that it had selected Aisin Group as its Tier One Strategic Partner for SAE.

    To say the least, we’re extremely proud and honored to be Toyota’s SAE partner, and our teams have worked together to help present a memorable and worthwhile experience for each of you.

    As a result, Team Toyota spent countless hours at our headquarters in Northville; and Team Aisin spent countless hours in York Township. We even attended the Japan SAE together in Yokohoma last year to do a little joint benchmarking.

    I mention this because during this period – about 14 months – Team Toyota and Team Aisin really became… One Team.

    We have, in fact, been arm-in-arm and in lockstep with each other, seated around the table and moving forward – together.

    Now, as simple as it sounds… this became an important reminder to me of something that I learned while I was a student in Japan in my late teens, and which has helped me throughout my career –particularly working for a Japanese company.

    In Japan it’s called: “Suriawase gijutsu” – the art of craftsmanship. The art of refinement. The art of working together. By the way, my Japanese colleagues think this is too difficult a concept to try to explain in 5 minutes. I say to them: “Challenge accepted.”

    AISIN's John Clark Wednesday, September 27, 2017 in Northville, Michigan. (Photo by Steve Fecht)

    AISIN’s John Clark

    “Suriawase gijutsu” requires more than a simple definition and, in fact, is highly relevant to Aisin’s role as Tier One Strategic Partner at this year’s SAE World Congress.

    As with many Japanese words “Suriawase gijutsu” encompasses a much broader concept. You might even call it a mindset.

    It means going back and forth… bouncing ideas off one another to obtain a finely-tuned result in pursuit of perfection.

    I believe it is the very “art” of getting things done well. And I say “art” intentionally. It is the mindset or the method of working together – sometimes described by rubbing two surfaces together until they become a perfect fit… refining… refining… relentless refining… can you picture it?

    With all of today’s modern technology our ability to design, engineer, and develop things has increased dramatically… you have only to look around Cobo Center this week to see for yourself.

    But after all of that computer aided technology… and technology that breeds even more technology… we come back to a point where the idea leaves the computer screen or the spec sheet… and becomes physical… tangible… mechanical… and it’s at that point that Suriawase gijutsu – the art of craftsmanship – comes right back to the forefront. Back and forth… making adjustments… working together… the ebb and flow… making refinements until eventually… an absolute perfect outcome is achieved.

    And that’s why the Toyota and Aisin exhibits are within the same footprint on the show floor today. We didn’t combine exhibits to save money. We created one exhibit… together… to demonstrate the importance of the partnership, the “back and forth,” the critical nature of the OEM-supplier relationship… coming together to create the highest quality vehicles in the world.

    Refinement. Craftsmanship. Perfection: “Suriawase gijutsu.”

    And, while certainly not singularly the answer to everything, I do believe this mindset is the key to making everything we do better.

    Now, let me conclude by speaking directly to the young people in the room… the next generation of automotive engineers…

    In this world of ever increasing technological advancement, it’s easy to get sucked into all the promises of more and more technology, which, in fact, do make our lives better in many ways.

    But, please, let me stress… this “art of working together…” the tangible side of engineering… this “art of craftsmanship” should not to be overlooked – especially if you yourself – are in pursuit of perfection.

    Thank you.

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