A journey of cultural transformation

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I was honored to join Henry Schein Animal Health nearly two years ago, fully aware that, in order to take an established, successful company and make it even better, changes were necessary.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy, nothing worthwhile is. I had to find ways to get everyone on board, and to convey, in the simplest terms possible, what mattered most.
Find the true center
The first thing we looked at was the mission. Our mission statement was long, and a bit too hard to understand. We thought about how to make it more straightforward, something everyone could relate to and rally around to fulfill.
Long ago I learned that the key to success is the customer experience — that is what matters most. And so our mission was redefined, and really very simple: To provide the best customer experience possible. That’s it.
We expect every member on our team to know it and live it. Living the mission means we are all empowered and committed to play our position, which is important on any team.
This isn’t a novel idea. I frequently hear organizations say that their customers are what they’re all about, but to be honest, this isn’t always the case. Many organizations are focused on so many things that the customer can get lost in the shuffle.
With the customer at the center, we are able to prioritize, serve, earn it daily and add value by providing more than we take in return.
Evolving the vision
The company vision was next on the list. Again, simplicity was the key.
The vision, to me, represents the destination of our journey. We point to it, but it is “the journey, not the inn” that matters. It is about moving forward, making progress and understanding the “why” as well as the “how and what.” Our vision became: To be the animal health solutions provider that also happens to sell veterinary supplies.
Of course we want to sell our products and services, but the culture we are building requires more. An aligned team, all playing their positions and working hard to fulfill the mission is energizing. It enables our ability to point to the destination.
When we fulfill the mission we are able to focus on our vision. When we do both, our veterinarian customers build a healthier world for animals and pets.
I start with our mission and vision statements at every leadership meeting, town hall and sales meeting.

The how and why is captured in what I have termed our “three sets of three.” They incorporate the things I have learned over the years, and include areas of focus and operating principles that everyone should keep in mind when operating/leading a business. (You can read more about that in my next column.)

Fran Dirksmeier is the president of Henry Schein Animal Health. Fran brings more than 30 years of experience to his position as president of Henry Schein Animal Health. He’s recognized in the health care industry for being both a visionary leader and a strategic entrepreneur with a track record for bringing out the best in people to drive growth and operational excellence.