//Curt Fowler: How WD-40’s Culture Drives Performance

Curt Fowler: How WD-40’s Culture Drives Performance

Curt Fowler | Fowler and Company

Last week we discussed how Garry Ridge has led WD-40 to fantastic financial results. During his tenure, WD-40’s stock price has multiplied by 5x and its revenue has more than doubled. Ridge created these results through a values-driven culture defined by six core values. WD-40’s leadership also ranks their core values to make sure everyone in the organization will be able to make the right decision if one core value conflicts with another.

We covered WD-40’s top three values last week and I want to show you the last three today. There are some great lessons to be learned from how WD-40’s leadership defines their values. We’ll discuss those at the end of the article.

As a reminder, the first three core values were: Do The Right Thing, Create Positive and Lasting Memories, and Make it Better.

Succeed as a Tribe & Individually
We recognize that collective success comes first. Our organization is a global company with many different locations and tribe members spread far and wide. But everything we do is geared toward the success of the entire company. And within the company are smaller groups, whether they are functional departments or teams defined by geography. The same philosophy applies in these sub‐teams. We believe the individual can’t “win” at the expense of, or apart from, the tribe. But individual excellence is the means by which our organization succeeds. And “excellence” is defined as outstanding contribution to the whole. Our mantra is one world, one company, one tribe.

Own It and Passionately Act
We are maniacs about accountability. We put our hearts into our work because it is with passion great things are achieved. We believe all of us are owners of our Company’s treasures. We are individually and collectively responsible for the future of our tribe, and we are accountable for the impact we have on all the people who are affected by what we do.

Sustain the WD-40 Economy
We realize creating and protecting economic value for our tribe and its stakeholders is a tremendous responsibility. We take seriously the fact that many families are dependent upon the actions we take. We recognize and accept this responsibility. Core values drive your brand and your brand drives your profits. Are you ready to establish core values for your organization or build on the values you have? There are a few things about WD-40’s values I highly recommend you mimic. WD-40’s core values are unique. They didn’t just grab core values they liked from other companies. They clearly took the time to document the values that describe their people’s behaviors when they are at their best.

They are action-oriented and well defined. There is no need for a WD-40 tribe member to guess at what a core value means or how to live it out. Each value is well described and even ranked!

Lastly, there are only six core values. Poor communication is the number one problem in and outside of organizational life. The simpler and shorter you can keep the message the more likely your team will be to remember the message and live it out. I hope this review of WD-40’s performance and culture inspire you to create a high- performing, values-driven culture in your organization.

Curt Fowler is an organizational growth expert and President of Fowler & Company, a business advisory firm dedicated to helping leaders create and achieve a compelling vision for their organization. He has an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School, is a CPA, and a pretty good guy as defined by his wife and four children.

Have a business growth topic you’d like me to cover? Send suggestions to cfowler@valuesdrivenresults.com.