Simple works best: Guiding principles for any business

At Henry Schein Animal Health, we’ve made changes to focus on what’s most important. We started by redefining our mission and vision statements. We made them easy to understand, yet powerful enough to rally around. They are at the very foundation of the culture we are building.
Our mission is not complicated: To provide the best customer experience possible. With the customer experience at the forefront, we embarked on a journey to ensure we are adding value for our customers. Our vision is our destination: To be the animal health solutions provider that also sells veterinary supplies.
When we make progress toward fulfilling our mission, we can focus on our vision. Delivering on both enables our veterinarian customers to build a healthier world for animals.
Overarching precepts
I start every leadership meeting, town hall, and sales meeting with our mission and vision statements. The how and why is captured in what I have termed our “3 sets of 3.” These guiding principles were not developed overnight; they evolved over 25-plus years, and represent what I’ve experienced, learned, read about and applied.
These precepts — or 3 sets of 3 — apply both internally, within the company, and externally, to our customers. They are:

1. Like, Trust, Respect.
2. Lead, Motivate, Teach.
3. Speed, Quality, Cost.

People do business with people they Like, Trust and Respect. It’s as simple as that and reminds us that we must “earn it daily.”
At Henry Schein Animal Health, we believe every TSM, or Team Schein Member, can Lead, Motivate and Teach. We learned that a job description doesn’t make an effective leader. We are investing in a learning culture, developing our team and building leaders at all levels.
We are now beginning to witness “followship” emerging. In every organization, there are people who, no matter their title, inspire others. People migrate naturally to them, want to work with them and aspire to be a part of their team. We work hard to enable followship so that we can serve our customers and fulfill the mission.
With the pace of change in our industry faster than ever, a focus on Speed, Quality and Cost is required. We need to be quick without hurrying, because the latter can lead to mistakes. A leaner, more decentralized and empowered organization is required to win. Productivity is a must, so we are investing to enable it.
Keep it simple, then repeat
Our guiding 3 sets of 3 are basic, yet they work. I reiterate them at every opportunity — in conversations, at meetings, in emails and on banners at our distribution centers and corporate offices. Our employees know them, can recite them and have embraced them.
I have learned that we don’t need complex, complicated words or phrases to convey the leadership principles for a winning organization. Simple themes work best, stick with our team and become engrained in our work.

Although we can’t guarantee success, our principles sure help us to guarantee effort and teamwork.

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.