How One Global Company Cracked the Code on High Performance Collaboration and Teamwork

22/03/19 | By Carlos Valdes-Dapena
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The Five Principles of Mars Inc.

The Five Principles are an essential part of what makes Mars Mars, so it’s worth taking a moment to summarize them. The Five Principles have been around in one form or another for most of Mars, Incorporated’s history. They are the bedrock of the Mars business philosophy. Like a lot of companies’ values, the Five Principles are aspirations for how all Mars associates and businesses will conduct themselves. They’re more, though, than just nice words on posters in hallways and meeting rooms. The Five Principles are enacted every day throughout the company, guiding near- and long-term decisions and actions. Here they are, in summary:

Quality: The consumer is our boss, quality is our work, and value for money is our goal.

Responsibility: As individuals, we demand total responsibility from ourselves; as Associates, we support the responsibilities of others.

Mutuality: A mutual benefit is a shared benefit; a shared benefit will endure.

Efficiency: We use resources to the full, waste nothing, and do only what we can do best.

Freedom: We need freedom to shape our future; we need profit to remain free.

Effective collaboration and teamwork have always been central to how Mars Associates work. Our Framework for High Performance Collaboration (HPC) is in many ways an expression of who we are as a company. It’s also been used successfully outside Mars, though; that’s why I wrote my book, Lessons from Mars. I’m convinced it can work for you as well as it has for us. The insights from our research are applicable to groups and teams in almost any kind of organization.

The Framework has two major components: the Three Imperatives and the Six Practices. The Three Imperatives—Clarity, Intentionality and Discipline— describe three conditions that must be present to consistently unlock collaboration. They are the foundational element of the Framework and are especially useful for diagnosing teams. The Six Practices describe what teams can do to meet the demands of the Imperatives. The Practices are:

• Inspire Purpose

• Crystallize Intent

• Cultivate Collaboration

• Activate Ways-of-working

• Sustain & Renew

• Clarify Context

Our Framework for High Performance Collaboration is one of those things that enriches the experience of working for a living, whether you work for Mars or for one of our suppliers or customers. What’s more, our products and brands touch hundreds of millions of consumers every day. Whether it’s M&Ms® from the candy aisle, Pedigree® dog food from the pet food section, or Uncle Ben’s® rice, what we make puts us into an ongoing relationship with consumers. As the Quality Principle states, “The consumer is our boss.” If we can share something that will make life even a little better for the average person, it’s good for them and good for us. Sharing the cocoa genome has already touched millions of lives, even if those affected may not be fully aware.

Carlos Valdes-Dapena is an organization development professional with a focus on unlocking organizational performance through leadership and collaboration. He worked for Mars, Incorporated from 2000-2017. Prior to Mars, Carlos was an internal leadership coach and consultant working with IBM's senior leaders reporting to Lou Gerstner. Before IBM he spent three years working for Development Dimensions International as a consultant and trainer.


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