It was a challenge met with mixed reactions.
Wallace Carlson shipping and receiving supervisor Cody Root called it “a great exercise that got people thinking.” Mike Boskovich, bindery and finishing lead, was motivated by the competition, while pressroom supervisor Jon Hansen admittedly thought it “seemed a little cliché at first.”
Charlie Cox’s challenge was seemingly simple: tell me why.
“Why do we do what we do? We know what we do and how we do it, but why?”
Drawing inspiration from Simon Sinek’s bestseller Start with Why, Cox, COO of the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based printer, challenged people to consider why Wallace Carlson does what it does.
And he says it’s not about making money. “Profitability is what happens when you have a strong ‘why’ – but getting at the ‘why’ requires digging deep, examining your purpose, your reason for being,” he said. “The ‘what’ and ‘how’ are easy, but the answer to ‘why’ can be elusive.”
Cox, known for his all-hands meetings and transparency from the board room to the pressroom floor, believed the question wasn’t his alone to answer. “Day in, day out, dozens of people wake up and walk through the door,” he said. “I wanted to give the entire team a chance to chime in.”
Wallace Carlson is a place where every person has a voice.
“Charlie is big on culture. He’s a great motivator of ideas and believes in giving everyone a voice,” said Root. “He asked us to share our answers and promised to throw in a prize for the best one.”
Cox explained the ‘why’ concept and invited all employees to submit a response. His plan was to choose the one that most closely resembled his own thoughts and award a hefty cash prize.
Before Boskovich began crafting his response, he bought Sinek’s book. “I wanted to know what it was all about,” he said, “to see why it was important to Charlie to have this question answered.”
The words came naturally to Hansen, who has spent nine years at Wallace Carlson, and over 42 years in the printing industry. “To me, everything that comes off the press is a piece of art, not a print job,” he said. “I think embracing the creativity is a big part of what we’re all about.”
Why five winning ‘whys’ ultimately became one.
Cox received dozens of great responses, so many that he had a hard time choosing a winner.
“I saw common threads among many of the writeups,” he said. “We have a special culture, one that’s built on teamwork, high expectations and continuous improvement. We are always looking to the future and investing in new technologies and ideas. We build long-lasting relationships with customers, and what we do helps them build relationships with their customers.”
Cox related closely to five of the submitted responses. “Five people articulated the reasons why they walk in the door every day,” he said, “and they’re the same reasons I walk in the door.”
Ultimately, instead of choosing a single winner, Cox selected the top five ‘whys’ submitted by his employees and blended them into what has become known as “The Wallace Carlson Why.”
THE WALLACE CARLSON WHY
We believe ink has the power to create and nurture relationships. Others see words and graphics, ink on paper. We see curiosity, smiles, conversations and brand loyalty. We see relationships.
Every piece of marketing collateral, every catalog, every folding carton we produce represents the promise of a relationship between our customers and their customers. We’re inspired to look beyond the ink, and we’re passionate about helping customers form meaningful relationships.
That passion fuels our ability to lead by example. We foster a culture of respect, transparency and teamwork. We listen, energize, engage and inspire. By tapping into our individual strengths and collective genius, we create value, exceed expectations and drive positive change.
We’re not afraid to try new things. We challenge convention, accept no limits and dare to be different. We embrace our fundamental need to advance our operations, continually investing in new equipment and technologies that expand our capabilities, drive customer differentiation and strengthen relationships. We seize every opportunity to disrupt this age-old industry.
We work tirelessly to achieve flawless execution, yet we recognize that even within the best production environments and the most seemingly perfect print jobs, there exists ample room for improvement. We never settle. We set the bar high, then we raise it, and raise it again.
Our teamwork, innovation and high standards enable us to successfully apply ink to paper – but looking beyond the ink, seeing the relationships, is what gives us purpose and guides our actions.