When it comes to values, it is walking the talk that counts. Outside the company brand image is Paramount. Maintaining consumer confidence in the brand is critically important. When the quality or safety of products is questioned companies have learned that the right strategy is to own the problem and take quick decisive corrective action and not duck the issue. In the United States consumer products companies and pharmaceutical companies have learned this lesson well and applied it thoughtfully. Again in the US are automotive corporations have yet learn the same lesson. To this day dealers still fail to take corrective action the compromises the safety of their customers for the sake of saving themselves a very few dollars. For automobile company what they publish on their websites or advertise on TV is their values is a far cry from what gets put into practice.
Hallmark again provides a good example of values that guide their corporation and what they do. Their values are: (1) excellence in all we do, (2) ethical and moral conduct at all times and in all our relationships, (3) innovation in all areas of our business as a means of attaining and sustaining leadership, and (4) corporate social responsibility to Kansas City and to each community in which we operate. Hallmark states that they use these beliefs and values to guide their business strategies, corporate behavior, and their relationships with suppliers, customers, communities, and each other. Not surprisingly for a greeting card company, Hallmark goes on to describe excellence in a very prosaic manner it follows: At best excellence is an aspiration, an attitude, a pursuit, a way of life. Excellence is all of us working together, aspiring to the fullest of our potential; always in pursuit of higher standards-determined to do everything we do somehow better than it has ever been done before. Excellence is found in the caring, in the trying, and in the doing. It is our objective. We seek it with dedication. It is a hallmark of this corporation. This example of values shows how when one looks at the opportunity for R&D, business development and intellectual property to cooperate with one another, when conflicts come up, there is practical guidance from whether or not to sue an individual for an IP violation, how to approach tough negotiations, or how to decide what’s appropriate and inappropriate to put on a greeting card.
General Electric’s R&D leadership states their values over the 10 years have been: (1) integrity is number one. We talk about it, we talk about it, we talk about it! (2) Boundaryless behavior. We work at breaking down chimneys, breaking down barriers in the research laboratory, between the research lab, between marketing and sales – everywhere. (3) Hating bureaucracy. We take bureaucracy out of wherever we can find. (4) Relishing change. Desire to change, to move faster. (5) Global brains. Technology is now being developed all over the world, and we must be able to tap into the streams of technology everywhere. (6) No NIH. Take a good idea from where ever you find it. (7) Speed. Recognize that speed to market is more important than pursuing the goals of research.
These General Electric values clearly provide good insight to business people, technical people, and intellectual property people working together. If one thinks of the stereotypes normally associated with each of those roles and envision the behavior when prosecuting a patent application, you can see how important understanding these values could be to improving the performance and shortening the time of the application process. These values also speak to where to find technology and how to most appropriately use it.
There were six values in use by the central research group Avery Dennison Corp. in the 1990s. They were an extension of the corporation’s values which were: integrity, service, collaboration or teamwork, creativity / visionary / innovation, excellence, and global community. These were selected by a community process that involved creation, upgrading, auditing, and agreement upon by all members of the organization.
A more targeted group of values characterized James River Corporation during its times of change in the late 1980s. It’s 10 values were: mutual trust, honesty in dealings with customer, suppliers and team members, sense of urgency, action oriented people, teamwork, hard-working, teasing and having fun, openness to surface and discuss issues, willingness to be creative and bring out creativity and others, embrace change, optimistic, and promptness. This listing sets the stage for our next discussion on how our values can be organized, ordered and selected so that they bring out the best in an organization.
IdeaConnections Corporation has values that guide its relationships between clients, employees, and organization. Regarding the IdeaConnection clients: “Our Clients are members of our extended family. Their success is our success; their failure is our failure.” Regarding corporate viability: “It is every employee’s responsibility to work towards maintaining the viability of the organization.” “Both employees and shareholders have a right to benefit from the profitability of our company.” “Successful, sustainable growth of our company depends on the continuous growth of all employees.”
At Bridgewater Associates, the values were shared with employees via a narrative, vs. words. Their values description was “a community in which you could always have the right and obligation to make sense of things in a process for working yourselves through disagreements – i.e., a real, functioning idea meritocracy. You are to think, not follow – while recognizing that you can be wrong and that you will have weaknesses – and the organizational will help you get the most likely best answers, even if you personally don’t believe that there the best answers. You are to have radical open-mindedness and an idea meritocracy that will take you from being trapped in your own heads, to having access to the best minds in the world, to help you make the best decisions for you and our community. The company wants to help you all struggle well and evolve to getting the most out of life.” Adding to this Bridgewater Associates values “Believability Weighted Decision Making” a means to weight votes or positons in a decision making process to favor those votes or positions coming from the most credible (knowledgeable and experienced with respect to the decision at hand) voices. Thus the two values, idea meritocracy and radical open-mindedness were explained in “outcome” terminology so employees could see if they were living their values or not.