I get a lot of questions about WestRock, what is it? What is it all about? What does the company stand for and what are its values? So, in order to facilitate greater understanding, I’ve posted our Enduring Values & Principles below.
Competition and Competitive Advantages
To succeed over the long term, we must develop meaningful competitive advantages over our competitors. The level of competition in an industry or area of focus is an incredibly important factor for a business’s future success. Similarly, businesses that are able to establish meaningful and sustainable competitive advantages over their competitors greatly increases the odds of future success. Too few businesses spend meaningful time understanding how they stack up versus competitors, however this understanding is vital. With a firm understanding of the competitive landscape focus should be on strengthening and deepening current competitive advantages, while at the same time developing and establishing new competitive advantages in areas whenever or wherever possible.
Focus On Serving Customers Better
Our Customers are of primary importance. Without customers, there is no business. That is why it is most important to always seek how to serve customers better. Opportunities always exist when there is the opportunity to serve customers better than our competitors. Opportunities for value creation are always present. This we must always bear in mind. Understanding customer needs, while seeking to meet these needs more deeply, and in new and novel ways will always be our focus, and our foremost objective.
Dream Big and Set Ambitious Goals
Our organization is founded on goals. More specifically, our organization is founded on the notion that setting ambitious goals is a critical part of our future success. Goals are important. You have to know what it is you intend to do, before you can do it. This important for the individual, and it is absolutely critical for an organization. When we consistently set ambitious goals, they work to pull us forward. And knowing whether or not we are nearing the achievement of our goals allows us to determine whether or not our actions require adjustment or modification, or if we are on the correct path. It is this process of consistent goal setting that focuses our organization, and keeps us all moving in the right direction. There is also a great deal of value in understanding why a goal was not achieved. Yes, there is value in failing, but only if we are able to learn from it. Keeping track of whether or not we are meeting the goals we have set for ourselves helps to ensure that we continue to move forward and continue to learn from our actions.
Systems and Processes That Drive Value Creation
Our systems and processes are the activities we perform that allow us to create superior value for ourselves, our partners and most importantly for our customers. They are our business habits that drive our future success. By improving our organizations systems and processes we improve as an organization, and can provider greater service to our customers. This is the process of innovation.
Innovation commonly is associated with technology, but it doesn’t always have to be so. Innovation without our organization commonly involves seeking greater productivity, efficiency and simplification of the systems and processes for common or recurring operational tasks. Innovation may also mean automating systems and processes, thereby increasing speed and efficiency, while also reducing waste.
Innovation requires that we be proactive with regards to improving what we do. Having the best systems and processes in place results from measuring outcomes so that we may attain the best information, with which we are able to make the smartest decisions. Measurements and metrics that provide quantitative information should be utilized to the greatest extent possible for judging current and future performance, and for guiding decisions regarding innovative change. This optimization through innovation is an unending process, but it is a critical part of our ability to maintain our competitive advantages over competitors.
Results, Metrics and Data
Quantifiable results are what matters most. To understand results, one must first be able to measure the output of actions or performance. It is only after we have quantifiable results that we can make any sort of assessment of performance. Conversely, performance leading to results that cannot be adequately measured cannot be adequately assessed. Measurement that leads to better data and information, ultimately leads to better decision making. Over time, the better the quality of data we have to make decision, the better our decisions will be. Because better data, leads to better insights and therefore better decision-making, we must continually work to gather as much useful data as we can, because we believe that overtime, these better decisions will ultimately lead to better long term outcomes.
Data Driven Decisions
Better decision ultimately lead to better results. Furthermore, we believe that those that have the best data or information, should ultimately be the ones making the decisions. In many if not most instances, decision making authority should not be granted on the basis of seniority or experience when richer, more meaningful information is available for use. This notion is easy to understand in theory, however much harder to implement in practice. Data in the form of informative metrics that can be used to improve our systems and processes, thereby making them more streamlined and more efficient is a critical part of how we may be able to create value for our organization and for our customers. We are a data driven organization. If something can be measured, it should be measured. And if can utilized to improve our decision, then it should be. We view the ability to consistently gather meaningful data and furthermore use that data to improve decision making to be a distinct competitive advantage.
Learning, Innovation and Continuous Improvement
Without curiosity, there can be no learning. Without learning there can be no improvement. Innovation is the process of asking questions, testing, obtaining meaningful results, and then analyzing and learning from the results obtained so that was learned may be used to improve systems, process and create added value. This is a continuous process, and it is unending. The more quickly, consistently and more meaningfully we are able to learning, the more quickly we are able to innovate. This process is a critical aspect of our ongoing and future success. By making consistent improvements, over time we drive our organization forward and develop strong competitive advantages over our competitors.
Habits, Incentives and Alignment
Alignment within any organization is critical. Alignment is fostered within an organization when individuals have clear goals and clears incentives for reaching those goals. This process of coming together to achieve common outcomes is fundamental to our organizational success. And when processes fostering alignment become ingrained within an organization’s culture, it becomes habit. It is always our goal to create a cultural identity and belief system within our organization that results in consistent, repeatable habits, which over time, through constant application, will propel us forward. Making sure we have the proper incentives, alignment, processes and habits is how we ensure that our goals will be met, and how we ensure our long term success.
People Are Our Most Important Resource
No organization exists without people. These are the individuals who uphold and advocate our values and principles which ultimately defines our organizational culture. Not only our leaders, but every individual who is a part of our organization should increase our ability to understand and serve customers, strengthen our competitiveness, and raise our overall standards as an organization. This is foremost in our minds when identifying individuals with whom we might partner or recruit to our organization. The higher the quality of the people associated with our organization, the higher the overall quality of our organization. Quality and character indeed matters.
The Character of our People
Strength of Character is the most important characteristics when recruiting or hiring individuals to join our organization. Individuals with strong characters are trustworthy and respectful. As such, they garner respect from others. They are adaptable and flexible with respect to perspective and opinion, understanding that they themselves don’t always have the best answer or the greatest insight. And that having this deference oftentimes may result in better outcomes.
Individual having strong characters work hard and are determined. They overcome the invariable setbacks that will occur from time to time. They understand that the challenges we face may serve as our best teachers, and as a result the best opportunities for growth. And furthermore, our current setback plant the seeds for our future success. And thus challenges are not something we should withdraw from, but instead something we must continuously seek out.
These individuals understand the important of hard work and determination. Yet they also understand that ultimately they are accountable and responsible for their individual results. They tend not to look to others to blame, but look within. They seek to understand how they can continue to be more successful. Furthermore, they understand that the collective efforts of all individuals within our organization ultimately determines our success as an organization. They see that they are a part of a larger whole, which only serves to focus their resolve and deepen their determination. They understand the importance of character.
Trust and Respect
Our organization is built on a foundation of trust and respect. This trust and respect must exist for and between individuals within our organization and individuals outside of our organization. Our ability to serve our customers and create value within our organization and for our partners begins with mutual respect and trust. These values must not be taken for granted. Furthermore, they must be intentionally and continuously cultivated, otherwise these value are likely to diminish or be overlooked.
Trust and respect allows to individuals to voice differences and manage conflict for the achievement of mutual positive outcomes. Trust and respect allows us to be open and honest with one another. It allows us to embrace our diversity of opinions, ideas and perspectives. This critical for expanding our ability to create value without our organization and to more objectively serve our customers.
Work Hard, Determination and Maintenance of High Standards
Hard work lays the foundation for success and high achievement. Without hard work and determination, sustained high achievement is not possible. Every individual is responsible for the for the magnitude of work and level of commitment and determination they perform or exhibit. This can never be something delayed for another time, curtailed or diminished. And it cannot be outsourced to someone else. It is always the responsibility of the individual.
Maintaining high standards of conduct and performance is as important as a commitment to working hard and to determination. At all times, and in all instances, the standards an individual chooses to maintain are always and completely under his or her full control. In effect, our behavior is a choice. Results may vary at times, but behavior and what is done in order to maintain standards must always remain consistent and constant.
We must remain humble and know that serving customers is a privilege. Our station in life is mostly the result of fortune and goodwill. Remain humble no matter how much opportunity we achieve, knowing that if we became boastful or careless it might all be squandered in a moment. Be thankful for every opportunity that is found and every objective that is achieved.
Accountability & Ownership
Every employee of our organization should think and act like an owner. That means maintaining a long term vision for our organization as opposed to a short term vision. Ownership means being accountable for our actions and responsible for our results. Having an ownership orientation also means being goal oriented and being responsible for meeting the goals we have set individually and as an organization. Leaders who think like owners understand that they are responsible for infusing our values, principles and therefore our culture throughout our organization and understand that they are responsible for insuring that we all adhere to this standard. All individuals must be accountable for their actions. And all individuals must be responsible for the results they produce.
Our ability to effectively communicate is a critical component of our success as an organization, as it is for any organization. The ability to communicate with openness, honesty and transparency is a fundamental part to delivering value, and too many organization carry out this crucial function poorly. Clarity in communication is a critical part of allowing those within, as well as external to our organization understand our value. The value our organization delivers must be clearly evident. Clear communication of our values and principles also serves to allow every individual that is a part of our organization to understand who we are, and helps to ensure that our expectations and standards are upheld and consistently met. Additionally, our ability to clearly and openly communicate who we are as an organization allows potential customers and partners to more deeply understand whether we are aligned with their values, principles, needs or requirements.
Risks, Rewards, Value and Investment
The future can never be known with absolute certainty, and as such, business will always be fraught with risk. Therefore, we must always remain focused on risk. Being risk focused means making sure that the potential rewards resulting from our actions and investments more than make up for there risk incurred. We must never forget to remember that risk we incur with each investment is separate and distinct from the value we ultimately realize. The two may not necessarily be related, or of equivalent magnitude. Thorough understanding of this relationship is crucial to our longevity and success as organization.
Frugality & Resourcefulness
Cash flow is the life blood of any organization. Our ability to generate free cash flow provides us with opportunity to acquire other businesses, grow our business organically, acquire other businesses and invest in innovations, as well as improve the systems and processes that allow us to serve customers more thoroughly than our competitors. To us, frugality means being mindful of the limited resources we have, and making every attempt to ensure that resources are utilized in the most productive manner possible. Resourcefulness means leveraging resources so that we are able to achieve more with less. Its also means being efficient and minimizing waste. Lastly, being resourceful and maintaining a sense of frugality allows us to have the resources available to quickly capitalize on opportunities when they invariably arise.
Maintaining A Long Term View
Much thought, effort and consideration has gone into developing and recording our Values & Principles. We believe that our Values & Principles lay the groundwork for our organizational culture and provide us with a huge competitive advantage.
We endeavor to create an organization that will last for a very long time. Doing so will require adherence to time tested values, principles and behaviors, as well as maintaining a long term perspective with respect to our thinking and ideas, our planning, our investment, and our behavior. Its takes considerable time and effort to create a culture within an organization that is resilient. And it requires persistent thought and consideration about what something might look like years, or even decades into the future; not weeks or months. Maintaining this perspective is not always easy, but it is necessary.
We never cease looking to the future, knowing that if we continue to work hard, maintain high standards for ourselves and our organizations and adhere to our values and principles, we will eventually achieve the level of success we so desire.