A company’s values contribute more to its success than most big new ideas. During my stint with the White Shirt Army, all IBM trainees were required to memorize the IBM Basic Beliefs:
IBM’s unique “Open Door Policy” is perhaps the best example of their “respect for the individual” belief in action. This policy grants any employee free access to any manager at any time regarding any issue. If an IBM employee has a grievance against their manager, they can take it to the CEO if they desire, without fear of reprisal.
I was once interviewed by a high-ranking IBM executive who had flown into town to investigate an Open Door matter. Apparently, one of my former managers had filed a grievance over being terminated. It came as no surprise to me that this poor manager had been fired. To my observation, he should have been. I was shocked, however, to observe firsthand the extremes to which IBM would go towards respecting an individual former employee. It made me proud to be an IBM’er.
At the other extreme, the ruthless treatment I received on the way out the door of my Memphis employer made me determined to never rob another human being of their dignity, as they had robbed me of mine. In founding my firm, I devoted as much time to the formulation of our Basic Beliefs and Core Values as I did to our business plan, perhaps more.
Next week, I'll share how we went about forming the foundation of Ambassador Solutions' uniquely inspiring culture. For a sneak preview, you're invited to consider buying the book.