You normally hear the term "family values" coming from the mouths of politicians. They're always saying that they're going to bring a sense of family values to government, or restore family values to society, or some other such platitude.
Normally, I agree with the concepts behind the phrase, but I have to admit that hearing it so often is a little sickening. Unfortunately, those mouthing family values often have no real program to back up their promises, or, worse, aren't serious anyway.
That's why news out of Case Western Reserve University early this summer was so refreshing.
The university's Weatherhead School of Management in June recognized Nook Industries as a 1999 Family Firm of Distinction. The thirty-year-old manufacturer of precision lead screw assemblies, jack screw devices, and other linear motion components is led by Joseph H. Nook, Jr. and his two sons, Joseph III and Christopher. Having family members on the management team makes communication easier and eliminates the red tape so characteristic of larger, impersonal companies.
But the Nooks take that idea of family further than the blood lines. "We look at everyone in the company as family," says Joseph III, "and we do everything we can to create a family atmosphere."
No doubt the same could be said for all of the other family businesses that have been so successful in the manufacturing sector. Nook and companies like Tol-O-Matic, Ormec, Pacific Bearing, and Bentley Microsystems, to name just a few, have been successful in developing innovative technologies because they also include their customers in the family. They are as conscientious in providing the right technology for solving customer problems as they are in any dealings within their own extended corporate family.
They also trust their employees, listening to them and giving them the opportunity to be creative. They don't throw roadblocks in their way.
That's what family values means in business and technology trust that the team will do the job. Every company should be a family company in that sense.