A business philosophy is a set or principles that a company uses to achieve its ultimate goal. It is the company’s core values that guide it through all its ups and downs. It should be consistent with the brand’s mission, personality, and vision. It reflects the company’s actions, decisions, culture, and culture.
Your business philosophy should be motivating, action-oriented and applicable to all activities and departments. You can help your company develop your philosophy by creating two pieces of the company’s mindset, mission statement & vision statement. Then you can work on your philosophy from there.
To help you get inspired, we have compiled 19 examples of business philosophy from both past and present.
19 Business Philosophies
Let’s take a look at some Fortune 500 companies and other well-known ones. While some people group their values and call them philosophy, others define their philosophy using a Mission Statement or Values Statement, Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics. These are great examples of strong, guiding philosophy to inspire and influence your own.
1. AT&T — Connecting People
The largest communications company in the world bundled their many telecommunications services—cellular and web connectivity, entertainment, and premium content, for example—into a larger, crystallizing concept that we can all understand and relate to: connection.
While it’s easy for some services to be dismissed as purely utilitarian, strong leaders can reframe companies and their services to make them more meaningful, humane, and more human. AT&T’s mission is to connect people, help them thrive and provide experiences and stories that matter. When employees feel inspired to do something so important for humanity, this unifying vision can transform the culture and mood of the workplace.
2. Google — 10 Things That We Know to be True
- Focus on the user and all else will follow.
- It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
- Fast is better than slow.
- Democracy on the web works.
- You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
- It is possible to make money while doing good.
- There is always more information.
- Information is needed across all borders.
- A suit is not necessary to be serious.
- It’s not enough to be great.
Google’s “10 Things” philosophy has many components. The main idea is to allow employees to experiment, explore, and succeed. It is a human-centric company that fosters creativity, innovation, and play in the workplace. Comparably ranked it #1 in the best global workplace culture in April 2021.
3. Chevron — Putting People First
“Chevron has always put people at the center of the energy conversation. Because we understand that the well-being of people everywhere depends on energy. Energy that is affordable, reliable and ever-cleaner.”
This philosophy, also known as “The Chevron Way”, is a way of putting people first. It’s a theme you’ll find repeated throughout this list. Although it took companies a while to realize that customers and employees should be at the core of the business, this adaptation has proven beneficial for large companies. Chevron’s parent companies, Standard Oil Company, have been implementing the The Chevron Way philosophy, which places people first in charity, operations, and customer service.
4. Walgreens — Passion and Collaboration
“We cultivate an open and entrepreneurial mindset in all that we do. We work collaboratively with each other and our partners to win together. We work with rigor, simplicity and agility to deliver exceptional results. Propelling our company and the industry forward takes passion and expertise.”
Another multifaceted philosophy is this set of values, which is centered on collaboration and passion and has the simple, straightforward purpose of helping people around the world live happier and more fulfilling lives. Walgreens focuses on trust, care, inclusion, partnership, and dedication.
5. Verizon — Total Accountability
“Total accountability of satisfying customers.”
It’s possible to be sweet and simple. Verizon puts aside its product and service offerings and emphasizes the philosophy behind delivering these products and services: total accountability. This philosophy would be a good thing for all companies. Verizon is committed to customer satisfaction, regardless of product or service.
6. Bank of America — Empathy, Discipline and Understanding
Here we have another customer-focused philosophy. Not only is Bank of America focused on satisfying the customer, but it establishes how it strives to satisfy the customer: with discipline, empathy and understanding. But notice that the philosophy doesn’t stray far from the ultimate goal of any financial institution, which is to satisfy the bottom line and those ever-present shareholders.
7. FedEx — People-Service-Profit
“The People-Service-Profit philosophy (P-S-P) is based on the belief that by creating a positive working environment for employees, they will provide better service quality to customers, which would then lead to customers using FedEx products and services.”
FedEx has created a memorable acronym to describe its business philosophy. FedEx’s operations revolve around a trifecta: People, Service, and Profit. The three components of the balance, however, are not separate but interconnected. FedEx believes that if employees are given a positive working environment, they will provide superior service. This will result in a comfortable profit for the company. FedEx claims to prioritise employee satisfaction over focusing on the money. This philosophy seems to be working so far.
8. Walt Disney Culture of Care
“If we take care of our guests and our cast members, the rest takes care of itself.”
The quote from Walt Disney is a great segue to FedEx’s P–S-P philosophy. The culture of care promoted by the founder of entertainment company was centered on human-centered care. It assumed that all else (profit, operational success and growth) would take care. Companies are recognizing the importance of a philosophy that focuses on people nurturing and not profit jockeying. These companies are on the Fortune 500 for a reason.
9. HP — The HP Way
“We have trust and respect for individuals. We focus on a high level of achievement and contribution. We conduct our business with uncompromising integrity. We achieve our common objectives through teamwork. We encourage flexibility and innovation.”
Another original company philosophy, “The HP Way”, was created by the founders. It emphasized how and not what the company does. This included uncompromising integrity and respect, trust, flexibility, and innovation. This is one of few business philosophies that mentions teamwork and encouraging team and collective success rather than individual and corporate successes. It’s surprising that so few companies recognize the importance of teamwork in a highly autonomous society.
10. Delta — Rules of the Road
“Delta has strong core values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance, and servant leadership. Our Rules of the Road define who we are and provide a solid foundation for Delta’s culture.”
The “Rules of the Road” by Delta are an example of a company focusing its business philosophy on a catchy tie in to its service offerings. Although Delta does not fly along roads but the airline’s travel-themed business philosophy makes it more memorable for both internal and externe stakeholders.
11. Nike – Focus on Innovation
Nike’s “About” page is a good place to start. You’ll probably notice a common word: innovation. Nike is proud to have innovation as part of its DNA. They have even called themselves a tech company . This assertion is hard to dispute, as Nike has been a pioneer in true technology in footwear. This is an example of a company that truly lives its business philosophy.
12. Publix — Lessons from Founder
The Publix philosophy is a multipart, values-based philosophy sustained from the original founder George Jenkins circa the 1930s. Publix has a lot invested in its business philosophy; there’s a large portion of the corporate website dedicated to its business philosophy, founding, and history, including a series of videos explaining and exploring each individual value the company was built upon. If you’re working on building your own business philosophy, consider watching this series of two-minute videos, which are a nice representation of how the company continues to strive to deliver on each value in its day-to-day operations.
13. 3.M — More Innovation Focus
“3M’s management philosophy involves three main points: innovation, diversification and support for employees.”
This is right. Panmore Institute describes 3M as another company that has an innovation-focused culture. It is not hard to find success in Fortune 250 companies that make innovation their driving force. 3M is an excellent example of how to combine two common themes from this list: focus and innovation. The company’s simple business philosophy stresses the importance of supporting and diversifying employees as well as the nurturing of innovative ideas.
14. Starbucks – Employee First Philosophy
“We believe in hiring exceptional people who are willing to work for excellent results. In exchange, we are committed to the development of our good people by identifying, cultivating, training, rewarding and promoting those individuals who are committed to moving our company forward.”
Brand Autopsy examined Starbucks’ Employee First Philosophy. It actually comes from a 1986 memo by Il Giornale Coffee Company, the company that bought Starbucks in 1987. Howard Schultz, the former CEO, preached the importance and success of Steve Job’s management philosophy, “I hire people smarter then me and get out the way”. This philosophy is much older than Starbucks and has recently caught on in other companies.
15. TOMS — One for One
“For every purchased pair of shoes another pair would be donated to children in need in 60 countries all over the world.”
This philosophy of giving is known as the One-for-1 philosophy. It was more than just a philosophy after TOMS’s philanthropic approach. It also formed the basis for a new model of social enterprise. It was a pioneering concept that TOMS introduced in 2006. Since then, many companies have incorporated giving into their business models.
Lululemon’s business philosophy offers a refreshing new concept among its peers: curiosity. However, Lululemon does insert the common theme of innovation into its approach. The company’s overall mission, it seems, is to utilize its product offering to “elevate the world” with better, more functional clothing. It may be a bit of a stretch, but this yoga-focused clothing line is obviously on to something nonetheless.
17. Burt’s Bees – Body First
“What you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer.”
All Good Tales clearly shows that Burt’s Bees’ business philosophy is tied to what it sells as well as how it’s used. The philosophy is simple: create a high-quality, natural product that nurtures the skin of customers through a variety products. Burt’s Bees also offers pet products such as shampoos and conditioners. This broad philosophy is also supported in this product category.
18. Clif Bar — Aspirational
“Sustaining our People – Sustaining our Communities – Sustaining the Planet – Sustaining our Brands – Sustaining our Business.”
Clif Bar is a holistic, natural and journey-focused product company. Its business philosophy is in line with its brand, identity and culture. It is a long-term aspirational journey that revolves around the spokes on a bicycle wheel. Another example of how a company’s business philosophy is built around its brand is this Clif Bar page. This succinct explanation of business philosophy does not just address the Five Aspirations of the company, but also includes an illustration, and an annual report, which help to crystalize the application business philosophy.
19. Atlassian — 5 Constant Values
Atlassian’s may be a good business philosophy to end on. Before introducing the values on the website, the company offers a precursor: “As our company continues to evolve and grow, these five values remain constant. They guide what we do, why we create, and who we hire.” This is a perfect example of why a company should bother with a business philosophy, and what it should be designed to do. A business philosophy should guide what a company does, why they do it, and who they hire, and remain constant over the course of its lifecycle. The Atlassian values are straightforward, but the explanation of why they exist is what makes this philosophy so impactful.
Bottom line: Do what you preach.
It’s all very well to create a business philosophy. It’s not enough to create a static, decorative business philosophy. The business’s conscience should follow the philosophy, no matter how long or what format it may be.
Strong business philosophy ensures that your business remains grounded in its founding vision, values, and mission. It serves as the North Star of the business, in good and bad times. This philosophy can be applied to your company culture, branding and marketing, as well as business operations and practices. It will help you produce results and keep your employees and moral compass centered.