Often we judge a company by its cover, by the surface accomplishments that make a splash in the news cycle or trigger a quick boost to stock prices. But that is nothing more than a superficial view; it is a poor measure of a company’s value or ability to succeed long-term. The real measure of a company comes from an examination not just of what it achieves, but of how it achieves success. That is what sets the forward-thinking and resilient companies apart.
It’s with that truth in mind that the POET executive team meets annually for strategic planning. It’s there that we take a close look at our priorities and values and how we ensure those priorities and values are evident in everything we do.
A strong company has many elements that must connect in order to reach its goals. It needs a clear picture of who it wants to be and where it wants to go, namely a mission and vision. It needs strategic priorities, which are an engine to move it forward. And it needs a foundation of company culture.
Our vision is our broadest guide. It is our worldview, colored by our unique perspective as producers of renewable fuel and other renewable products.
“Our vision is to live in a world with natural balance. Where we no longer take from the Earth, but rather use its enormous ability to regenerate. Where we are no longer dependent on fossil fuels but rather rely on the growing power of nature and the genius of the human spirit. Where farmers are the creators and innovators are the heroes. Where we use the resources given to us in ways we believe God intended.”
Our mission outlines how POET fits into that worldview. One of the gratifying things about working at POET is that we have the ability and resources to make a real difference in the world.
“Our mission is to be good stewards of the Earth by converting renewable resources to energy and other valuable goods as effectively as humanly possible.”
In order to support that vision, we have three strategic pillars.
PEOPLE: POET seeks to be the preferred employer. By attracting and retaining the best and brightest in their fields, we put our goals in reach.
I’ve said before that POET is the people who work every day to make us the best. Their success is POET’s success, and as such we must work to put people in a position to succeed. For example, we have started a leadership program at POET, where we develop our talent to better enable us to promote from within.
VALUE CREATION: We must grow POET’s value by continuing to create new and expanded opportunities in the market. Strong companies grow in a steady
and intelligent manner, which provides value for all stakeholders.
This has been a long-time strength of POET. We have been the only ones to use a raw starch process. We were the first to find real value in DDGS, creating the Dakota Gold brand. Other products such as corn oil, liquefied carbon dioxide and, most recently, cellulosic ethanol, show our continued focus on expanding what it means to be a biorefinery.
LEADERSHIP: POET seeks to be an influential global organization. In order to influence the world, we must be the leader. We must lead discussions on public policy and branding of ethanol and other renewable products. Having a leading market position allows us to have the influence necessary to create change.
POET has worked to be a visible and active organization within the ethanol industry and, more broadly, within agriculture. We have conducted advertising campaigns to put a face to the industry; we have led policy initiatives at the local, state and federal levels, and we work hard to promote agriculture domestically and worldwide. One initiative of which I’m particularly proud is our work in Africa, where we help teach African farmers better ag practices to improve their yields and become self-sufficient.
All of the above – our vision, mission and strategic priorities – cannot hold firm without a solid base of company culture. I’ve talked in the past about POET’s culture. To recap, we have summarized it in three basic tenets.
1. We Always Strive for Excellence
2. We Embrace Change
3. We Aspire to Live by the Golden Rule
Those points are the base on which we build our business, and I’m proud to say those are not just empty phrases. I see our culture every day when I come to the office or visit a plant.
All of those elements together form the strength of POET. Those are the driving values that have led to success in the past and will lead us to realize our vision in the future. If you were to judge POET by its surface achievements, by the news-making headlines, you certainly get the impression that this is a strong company. But when you look closer at what motivates us to succeed and how we go about reaching our goals, you see the elements that really make this company shine.