Fellow executives… I am here today to give you an update on the Lopez Credo Cascade program. It's funny how time flies and now, the PR guys are calling me the Group’s ‘chief mentor’ and likens my new role to Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew.
As all of you know, through the years, I’ve been talking about companies that are built to last and it is my wish to see the Lopez Group survive for the next few hundred years and more. I met with the CEO of Sumitomo Corp., Mr. Susumu Kato who came to Manila for a visit to the different Sumitomo operations here. I asked him about his secret of success and how Sumitomo survived two world wars and lasted 400 years. The president fished out his Credo card and said that all the companies of Sumitomo are reminded by this Credo Card. The card states “Benefit for self and others, private and public interests are one and the same.” Sumitomo’s credo has become deeply rooted as the universal and unchanging basis of all its business activities for the last 400 years.
I thought about it and realized that we have something like that too. My father established his businesses not just for the sake of making money but to serve the higher objective of being of service to our people. We have been operating all these years with that higher objective in mind, perhaps somewhat subliminally. I thought it was time to make everyone in the Lopez Group conscious of our Credo. Hence, we undertook this program to roll out the Lopez Credo to the 14,000-work force of the diverse companies of the Lopez Group.
The introduction of the Lopez Credo was timely since the Lopez Group was marking its 82nd anniversary in 2010. We commissioned Brad Geiser of GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications who is a word-of-mouth expert to help us in the Cascade process. The long-term objectives were set out as follows: (1) to foster unity through a set of shared values and code of conduct; (2) to increase pride in Lopez citizenship; and, (3) to plant the seeds for a group of companies that will be “built to last”.
After a series of workshops – first with the CEOs including family members and second with the HR heads, the seven values were finalized. These values are – (1) a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit, (2) business excellence, (3) unity, (4) nationalism, (5) social justice, (6) integrity, and (7) concern for employee welfare and wellness.
The communications plan recommended was a mix of conventional and new media tools. The four parts of the communications plan are: The Visual Cue, the Guru Program, the Culture Bible and the Mentoring Program.
In the CEO discussion, two questions were raised: (1) What are the key challenges to communicating and sustaining the Lopez Values in your company? and (2)What should be the key components of a strategy to cascade the Lopez Values in our company? The most prominent responses to both questions were: (1) leadership by example; and (2) inclusion of the Values in the performance management systems. The participants apparently believed that managers need to “walk the talk,” and to be constant. They also felt that it is not enough to deliver results but to do it in accordance with our set of Values.
An HR workshop was also held, also facilitated by Prof. Borromeo on August 20, 2010. The definitions proposed by both the CEOs and HRs were then synthesized and initially presented on October 2010. The final definitions were further tweaked and approved in February 2011. The HR Council deemed it necessary to conduct another workshop this time, to come up with behavioral indicators for each of the defined values. The workshop was conducted on February 23, 2011.
The second part, what they call the guru program is a novel approach. It is a dialogue with the employees using the internet through email and blog. The initial salvo featured me as the ‘chief mentor.’
The intention of this program is for me to teach the Lopez values and culture through stories. Since the first email last year, a total of 19 emails have been sent out with an average response of 30 replies per email post. The email open rate is high at 94%. The most actively engaged companies are ABS-CBN, EDC and Sky.
To keep the employees engaged, contests were introduced. The first was in January 2011, where employees were encouraged to reply to the question “Are you a Lopez Values Star?” More than 400 entries were received. The top winner together with his immediate supervisor and the other seven finalists were honored in a lunch with me on March 25, 2011. The second contest, introduced last June was on social responsibility. Employees were encouraged to share their story on “What do you do for your community?” For this contest, the winner will be announced this month.
I was told that the next stage for this is to transition to Facebook (by the way, how many of you are on Facebook ? – show of hands please). On facebook, we will feature Lopez Values Stars – this is, family members, CEOs, executives, staff and the winners of the two contests. The page will contain Lopez values best practices, inspiring quotes, photos and short captions of Lopez values in.
The third is what they called the ‘culture bible.’ It is a body of work containing the values, cultures, teachings of the Family and even corporate members through storytelling. I am saddened by the report that based on a focus group discussion conducted in October 2011, most of our employees prefer not to read books. So, instead of a book, each employee will now receive some kind of notebook which will have short messages and anecdotes.
The final stage is to introduce a Group-wide mentoring system initially composed of Lopez Values Stars. The project aims to develop new mentors within the Lopez group organization. I was told that the target launch of the mentoring program is sometime 2nd quarter of 2012 or when the employees are ready.
With the operation of this elaborate system, we can be sure that within the next 2 years all our 14,000 Lopez employees will fully imbibe and live by the Lopez Credo system.
This anyway is what we intend to achieve in the next 2 years. This is all I have to tell you for now.