Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2010

  • Company Culture: A Key to Business Success

    Tuesday 14th September 2010 - 3:45pm - 4:45pm

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  • Company Culture: A Key to Business Success

    John S. Watson, a Mentor for the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Chevron Corporation, shares his perspective with growing global companies on how to develop and maintain a compelling company culture.

    Key Points

    • Leaders need to establish the values that they find most important for long-term sustainable progress in their business, and reinforce those relentlessly through systems, practice and leadership.
    • Culture in a company is defined as how work gets done.
    • While companies must adapt when operating in different markets and cultures, they do not need to compromise on the values on how they wish to run their organization.


    When entrepreneurs start a business, they are generally preoccupied with details such as managing, researching the markets for products, hiring, and dealing with governments and competitors. Yet, to last as a company, it is important that founders establish the values that they want their companies to represent. One of the reasons Chevron has lasted and prospered for more than 130 years is because of the values set and adapted by successive generations of leaders.

    Every company can write a list of values on a piece of a paper; but leaders will be judged every day by the values they claim as important. The moment a leader varies from acting with integrity, the employees will know it. The moment the leader claims to be protecting people and the environment but doesn’t, a little bit of credibility is lost. It is important for leaders to repeat themselves, especially when operating across multiple time zones and multiple cultures. One can say that safety is very important, but every budget is a test. When visiting a plant, deciding whether the first question is about production or safety is a test. Value communication must be relentless – the tests certainly are.

    Other Key Takeaways

    To be commercially successful requires tenacity, persistence and strong preparation; much more than just what is covered in high-level values. Yet, integrity works everywhere. Innovation is great, but it must be directed. It is not good to see too much innovation in the running of a refinery, for example.

    To drive intensity, ask the right questions at the right time. Monitor the performance of the organization and work hard to let people know what is important. If management pays attention to a project, it gets completed; otherwise it goes extinct.

    Introduced by

    Robert Greenhill

    , Managing Director and Chief Business Officer, World Economic Forum


    John S. Watson

    , Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Chevron Corporation, USA; Mentor of the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2010


    This summary was written by Isaac Stone Fish. The views expressed are those of certain participants in the discussion and do not necessarily reflect the views of all participants or of the World Economic Forum.

    Copyright 2010 World Economic Forum
    No part of this material may be copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or redistributed without the prior written consent of the World Economic Forum.

    Tuesday 14 September

    Keywords: Chevron, values, culture


  • John S. Watson John S. Watson
    Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Chevron Corporation, USA

    1978, Bachelor's in Agricultural Economics, University of California, Davis; 1980, MBA, University o...

Introduced by