[June 28, 2015] I’ve often written about how an organization’s core values help drive the conduct of its people and its external relationships with customers and stakeholders. Many examples were offered to help illustrate this fundamental fact about organizational behavior. Today, I will depart somewhat from my earlier format to bring forward an example of a more controversial, yet still very successful, company; Tyson Foods, Inc.
Tyson Foods is undoubtedly a great company, using any measure of success. The company is the world’s second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork and is one of the 100 largest companies in the United States.1 Despite being in a highly competitive international market and under pressure to improve quality and keep prices low, Tyson Foods has managed to carve out a reputation for reliable, safe, and inexpensive meat products for general consumption.
The company however has been implicated in a number of controversies. It has been involved in several lawsuits related to air and water pollution, use of illegal immigrants, price manipulation, and use of undisclosed antibiotics. Conversely it has been supportive of renewable energy, various charities, and supportive of religious affiliation. No company is perfect and when we review its core values, it is possible to see why it has been so successful.
“You strive everyday to do the right thing.” – John Tyson, grandson of founder
Its core values are laid out differently than most companies. It’s core values are arrayed into three categories: who we are, what we do, and how we do it.2,3 The complete list of their core values is in “footnote 3” below, but I would like to point out two of them that I find particularly helpful in understanding the company. First, they strive to be honorable. Second, they operate with integrity and trust in all they do. These are commonly found in great organizations.
What is unusual about their core values is that they are not so easily remembered and lack the clarity so many organizational core values have. I would venture to say that most of their employees could not repeat them back word for word. Nonetheless, those core values are good ones … and it works.
The people of Tyson Foods deserve our respect and appreciation for what they do in helping feed the world.
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 Core Values:
Who We Are:
We are a company of people engaged in the production of food, seeking to pursue truth and integrity, and committed to creating value for our shareholders, our customers, our Team Members, and our communities.
We strive to be a company of diverse people.
We strive to be honorable.
We strive to be a faith-friendly company.
What We Do:
We feed our families, the nation, and the world with trusted food products.
We serve as stewards of the animals, land, and environment entrusted to us.
We strive to provide a safe work environment for our Team Members.
How We Do It:
We strive to earn consistent and satisfactory profits for our shareholders and to invest in our people, products, and processes.
We strive to operate with integrity and trust in all we do.
We strive to honor God and be respectful of each other, our customers, and other stakeholders.