Affirming their True North: Whitaker Companies
The importance of keeping the Whitaker Core Principles alive served as the compass in this work, with a goal of forging unity and alignment across the entire organization. The Core Principles are rooted in Respect, Balance, Professionalism, Performance, Integrity, and Teamwork.
We worked to “bottle up and package” the passion and beliefs that have been the company’s foundation since 1983. It would be paramount to reflect the vision and growth strategies not only of Bruce Whitaker, CEO, but of each employee responsible for driving the business forward.
We created individual awards out of polished granite, as well as a “tribute tower” made of wood and crystal. This tower is displayed in the lobby of the company’s headquarters, serving as a daily reminder to live out the Core Principles. The Whitaker Way program has now been running for 18 years straight.
The artistry of the lobby display visibly reinforces the honored recipients and is a daily reminder of Whitaker’s principles to employees, clients and visitors.
Whitaker started by asking the question “how can we grow our geographical footprint, triple sales, and still maintain a strong culture and unity?” We had to look no further than the leader’s vision. Bruce Whitaker, founder and CEO, expressed his challenge this way: “Although we can fly new employees in to Houston headquarters for a week, the obstacle was transferring the knowledge and inspiring the message for a lasting impact. And that’s where we came up with the Whitaker Way modeled along the lines of the Big Blue Way for IBM chronicled in the book Good to Great.”
Our artist created a custom physical representation of the Whitaker trademark. The “W” in their logo symbolizes a bar graph that extends “Off the Charts” – which is the same bar held for employees in how they show up to work. But can a single physical icon presented once a year to a peer-nominated employee reinforce a culture throughout the year? The honest answer? No – that is, not unless the design illustrates the leader’s heart for people first, then performance.
This is a true case of how powerful a visionary leader is in building a culture of appreciation. The Whitaker Way program has been in place for over 18 years, with its debut in 1999. Each year, a new honoree is selected at the annual State of the Business meeting. This long-standing commitment to their Core Principles has created a workplace where employees are serving a cause – a True North – giving work greater purpose.