— Chan: Paul, you articulate Nestlé's purpose and value very well. Many Hong Kong CEOs, founders and chairmen – including myself – talk a lot about such concepts, yet if someone put us on the spot, I'm not sure how many of us could really clearly articulate the purpose and the value of our companies. How do you make sure that these words have actual substance in them?
These concepts need to be formulated in such a way that not only the person who creates them, but everyone in the company – the operator of a new factory, or the salesperson working on his own – can say, "I work for a company that stands for…"! So, it's important to articulate your purpose in a very simple and relatable way.
However, language is constantly changing. Just look at social media; the younger generation speaks differently! You have to make sure your message translates easily. Also, at the end of the day, your purpose statement should communicate something that people can then communicate further.
It's the same thing with values. We had this booklet describing our culture and values. We called it the "management and leadership principles". Well, if you asked an operator in a factory, "Do you know about our leadership principles?" he'd probably say "No, that's for the leaders!"
So, we had to think it through and really simplify things in such a way that it could be understood, lived upon, and easily expressed by every one of our 340,000 employees. If you ask that operator in one of our factories about Nestlé's values today, he can say, "Our values are rooted in respect."