The fantastic four

Involve employees in discussions

With the culture well established, Hiller didn’t just meet withhis management team and throw out four ideas they felt thecompany should follow. All employees were involved in theprocess through departmental meetings as well as full company meetings.

Through this process, Hiller found that every department wasin a silo and didn’t see other departments’ perspectives.

Involving all employees in this processallowed each department to see how different ideas for guiding principles affected each department.

“By pulling everybody back in, we startedto merge all that together,” he says. “Wewent in and said to each one of thosegroups, ‘Give us what are the critical success factors for guiding principles. Whatshould we do?’”

The answers came back differently fromeach department. Accounting would comeback with number-driven metrics; marketing would come back with all the greatideas the company should do, while otherdepartments came back with differentdynamics.

“So, when we took all those and put themall up on the board, the look on everybody’s face was like, ‘Wow, that’s not aguiding principle in marketing at all,’”Hiller says.

“Someone in accounting would look andgo, ‘I don’t see that as being a driver or away that we should conduct ourselves inaccounting.’ So, by molding them togetherand facilitating a lot of discussion, wecame up with some pretty cool ones.”

What they ultimately settled on weresafety, respect, reputation and efficiency.

Discussions also centered on driving thecompany’s current success and how togrow in the future. The answers could rangefrom products to sales training, but withoutguiding principles, none of that is possible.

“That future success breaks once you arenot safe, the minute you don’t haverespect,” he says. “You can have a greatstrategy that may make a financial return,but if it’s going to harm our reputation,cause that customer to not be respectful ofus, is
that really a future success?”

Hiller says the company started a lot further away from what ended up being thefour principles.

“You’ve got your personal perspective,then you’ve got a department perspective and then you have a managementperspective, and all those were a littledifferent,” he says. “So when we gotdown to the final ones, what we foundwas everyone goes, ‘Oh yeah, that makessense.’”

The company also flirted with havingmore than four or having subcategoriesunderneath the four principles.

“One of the principles thrown out wascompounded growth — we should alwaysgrow should be a principle,” he says.

“Well, look against those other fourand tell me where to put that in. Am Igoing to grow against respect? No. If Ihad compounded growth, but it affectedany of those four, would I do it? It gotdown to, anything else that you add tothis, at least in our minds, affects thosefour, and we think those four are themost important. Clearly, we’ve had abunch of growth. Everybody was looking at that and saying that’s success, andthat is true, but it’s not successful if it’snot sustainable against what we wouldbelieve to be our guiding principles.”