I recently had the opportunity to tour the BMW manufacturing plant in Spartansburg SC. It was quite an impressive operation with over 700 robots, and just in time and sequential inventory. However, what really impressed me was the leadership’s commitment to their company’s values.

BMW can walk the walk and not just talk the talk. One of their values is sustainability, which they demand not only from themselves but their vendors as well.

From the minute I walked into their modern, sleek designed campus, I knew I was in a different manufacturing plant. Their commitment to sustainability was evident from the 5 types of recyclable bins throughout the plant to the ergonomic assembly lines (a statement to workforce sustainability) as well as the 9 mile pipe connecting a local landfill’s methane gas to the plant. Many parts of the plant are powered by this methane gas.

Yet, all of these initiatives aren’t enough for the leadership at BMW, they look at this value, sustainability, from a more global perspective. To really live this value, they demand it from their vendors as well. So in order for a company to partner with BMW as an approved vendor, a company needs to demonstrate to BMW that it values sustainability as well.

This experience at BMW got me thinking about some of the companies I work with and the various levels of commitment they have in guarding and promoting their values internally as well as externally. Many of them, over 60%, have values yet they are just on paper with many employees unable to share them if asked. Then, there is another portion, about 25-30% that have values which are reinforced in communications and when making decisions. There is only a small portion, less than 10%, who live their values consistently and with passion.  And for those companies who are this value driven,  I would submit they enjoy a higher level of success. When values are understood and lived, better decisions are made, and there is a greater sense of community because employees share similar values.

So where is your company on this continuum?  And are you happy where you are or do you want to become more of a values driven leadership company?

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu) User: bosela