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24 Examples of Business Philosophy

 , April 15, 2018 updated on February 04, 2020
A business philosophy is a maxim that is used by a business as a principle, value or mission statement. This viewed as an element of a firm's identity and used to guide future strategy, decision making and problem solving. The following are common types of business philosophy with examples.

Style

Style is a unique character that shines through in your products, services, environment and culture.
People DO judge a book by its cover.
~ Mike Markkula, Apple, "The Apple Marketing Philosophy", memo from 1977

Frugality

The philosophy that constraints sometimes produce more value than big budgets.
Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention.
~ Amazon, "Our Leadership Principles"

Focus

Prioritizing those areas where you can create and capture the most value.
In order to do a good job of those things we decide to do we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.
~ Mike Markkula, Apple, "The Apple Marketing Philosophy"

Humility

Firms that become arrogant upon each small success are unlikely to go far. Large firms that suffer from corporate narcissism are destined to fall into decline whereby they develop an antagonistic relationship with stakeholders.
Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume.
~ Amazon, "Our Leadership Principles"

Confidence

A confidence and pride in your capabilities as an organization.
From an education perspective, we are unassailable.
~ Vancouver Film School, "A Word from our President"

Talent

The principle that you will try to find and employ talent.
Solving the hardest problems requires the best people. We think that the best people will be drawn to the opportunity to work on the hardest problems. We build our firm around that belief.
Mckinsey & Company, "Our mission and values"

Empathy

Seeking to truly understand the perspective of stakeholders, particularly customers.
We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.
~ Mike Markkula, Apple, "The Apple Marketing Philosophy"

Passion

A commitment to energy and enthusiasm.
We are delightfully surprising, red hot, straight up ....
~ Virgin, "Our Values"

Speed

The view that it is best to do things either fast or slow such as a technology company that prioritizes time to market, turnaround time and performance. A philosophy of doing things slowly can also make sense such as a chef who never rushes as a matter of principle.
Fast is better than slow.
~ Google, "Ten things we know to be true"

Risk Taking

The principle that business is about experimentation, calculated risk taking and fast decisions.
Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
~ Amazon, "Our Leadership Principles"

Winning

Modern business philosophy tends to embrace failure as a sign that you are taking risks. This can be balanced with the principle that it is not enough to try your best and fail but that winning must become a habit.
Leaders are right a lot.
~ Amazon, "Our Leadership Principles"

Authenticity

The philosophy that you are actually interested in your business beyond revenue. Some firms take this quite far whereby they will only hire people who are engaged in the culture surrounding their products.
A love of sport unites us.
~ Nike, "About Nike"

Change

Leading or at least embracing change.
You have to lead the change, if you don’t want to be led by change.
~ Publicis Groupe, "Strategy"

Creativity

A philosophy that you will pursuit non-obvious ideas.
Our passion for pioneering will drive us to explore narrow passages, and, unavoidably, many will turn out to be blind alleys. But - with a bit of good fortune - there will also be a few that open up into broad avenues.
~ Jeff Bezos, Amazon, "Come build the future with us"

Perseverance

The principle that business need not be comfortable, glamorous and convenient such that you embrace long periods of difficulty characterized by challenges and a lack of recognition.
As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
~ Amazon, "Our Leadership Principles"

Open-mindedness

Working to test your ideas against the real world, listening to others and identifying your own biases.
Leaders ... work to disconfirm their beliefs.
~ Amazon, "Our Leadership Principles"

Value Proposition

A philosophy that captures the nature of value creation in your industry.
We want to entertain the world. If we succeed, there is more laughter, more empathy, and more joy.
~Netflix, "Netflix Culture"

Engagement

Principles designed to prevent an organization from becoming internally-focused and disconnected from industries, customers and reality in general.
Leaders ... are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by "not invented here."
~ Amazon, "Our Leadership Principles"

Customer Experience

Thinking about things from the perspective of customers and acting with genuine intent to solve customer problems and improve the customer experience.
... look around corners for ways to serve customers.
~ Amazon, "Our Leadership Principles"

Creative Tension

Some firms have a philosophy that embraces mediocrity with principles that suggest that decisions are social such that they incorporate all perspectives. This tends to produce compromises that can be irrational or that lack imagination. Other firms specifically embrace creative tension whereby strategy is more important than group harmony such that disagreement is taken as a healthy sign that you are pushing into difficulty as opposed to avoiding it.
Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion.
~ Amazon, "Our Leadership Principles"

Genchi Genbutsu

Genchi genbutsu is a Japanese management philosophy that requires leaders to stay in touch with frontline operational realities.
Genchi Genbutsu – “going to the source” – is about checking the facts yourself, so you can be sure you have the right information you need to make a good decision.
~ Toyota Europe, "The Toyota Way"

Long Term Strategy

Optimizing strategy for the long term as opposed to quarter over quarter results.
Charlie and I always have preferred a lumpy 15% return to a smooth 12%.
~ Warren Buffet, 1990 Chairman's Letter

Good Business

A principle that you will do the right thing even if this requires a short term sacrifice.
Don’t be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served—as shareholders and in all other ways—by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company.
~ Google, "Letter From the Founders: An Owner's Manual for Google's Shareholders", 2004

People, Planet, Profits

A philosophy that business revenue can never come before ethical treatment of people and the environment.
It's time to speed up green action and protect our home.
~ Ørsted, "Act Now"

Notes

The "Apple Marketing Philosophy" was published as a memo on January 3, 1977.
The Google artifact "Letter From the Founders: An Owner's Manual for Google's Shareholders" is from the S-1 form (amendment #9) from their 2004 IPO.
All others quotes were retrieved on January 29, 2020 from the primary source of the firms themselves.

Business Philosophy

This is the complete list of articles we have written about business philosophy.
Antifragile
Authenticity
Ban The Average
Creativity
Fail Well
Resilience
Think Global
Win-Win
Worse Is Better
More ...
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