The starry heaven above me and the moral law within me …
The well-advanced internationalization of Sympatec naturally creates a multifaceted diversity in our headquarters as well as in cooperation with our foreign offices and associated sales and service partners around the globe. This is true not only regarding differing cultures, ethnicities, nationalities and colours but especially individual and social philosophies of life. The greatest challenge here is the development of a mutually supported international identity which is based on universal, globally accepted values.
The common corporate culture aggregates all cultural values, norms and attitudes which were developed over time and are collectively internalised as the corporate identity. The identity is expressed in characteristic patterns of decision-making, behaviour and rituals (corporate behaviour) and also becomes visible in architecture, design and symbols (corporate design). The common self-conception is beneficial to all corporate members and partners in the joint implementation of projects and in the fulfilment of business goals.
The architecture of Pulverhaus and our appearance on exhibitions, the instruments design and also the little green cactus pin on our lapel symbolise our common corporate and leadership culture. Sympatec members worldwide are recognized with their little green cactus – the symbol of our unique dry dispersion technology and the only botanical that prospers in dry environments. Our leadership concept is also symbolised in our Pulverhaus architecture. All departments and relevant doorways are marked and guided by the seven words of wisdom which were coined by the pre-Socratic philosophers in the Apollo temple in Delphi.
Code of Conduct
A generally valid code of conduct to support an exemplary compliance culture was first established in the 1990s together with the foundation of our US-American subsidiary. This code has been hardened ever since and proves as a valuable asset to ensure a global value orientation in our rather small enterprise. The about 150 members, which run the business in about 75 countries, may refer to this code in order to develop open, trustful and constructive relations to customers and partners in the most diverse cultural areas. The rules are of significant importance and therefore kept relatively simple and trustful in order to be understood everywhere. Leadership should be exerted based on mutual success and not based on control. Our self-defined ethical standards begin with the customer.
Principles of the Sympatec procedural rules
- The customer is the centre of all actions.
- A wide range of action allows for success-driven, flexible, focused decisions – based on the principle as much common sense as possible, as few rules as necessary.
- Subsidiarity is required as business and actions are always local. Decisions are made as close to the line of action as possible. This requires a culture of individual responsibility an all levels.
- All action is subject to due care to the highest professional degree and to the best possible economic efficiency.
- Every employee is obliged within his/her abilities in the role he has been assigned, in compliance with existing rules, to perform at his/her best.
The code of conduct outlined here is binding for all Sympatec employees and serves as a guide to shape their own actions. All further regulations and derived actions need to be compliant with the code of conduct in order to take effect. The fundamental assumption of a functioning business ethics implies that it is constituted and legitimised by the individual moral of individual people. It arises from the human reasoning itself and is neither enforced by mere external control nor a rigid regulatory framework. The basic guidelines of the following business ethics serve as stabilising, normative conditions that every individual may adapt to their cultural circumstances but may not overrule. This is how the Sympatec business ethics is aligned to universal, transculturally accepted and globally valid meta-principles.
Meta-principles of the Sympatec Business Ethics
- Individual moral | Self-responsibility of the individual
- Contractual moral | Respect for agreements and contracts
- Property moral | Respect for property of any kind
- A caring spirit combined with individual common sense.
We combine these meta-principles with some fundamental values and universally accepted rights that are beneficial to cohabitation within a community, that are widely recognized and do not require any relativization.
- Respect the individual human dignity.
- Be honest. If you cannot be honest, be quiet. Otherwise you could only harm yourself. If you cannot avoid “white lies” make them visible as soon as possible.
- In case of a mistake or misunderstanding seek for the soonest and best opportunity for clarification and explanatory conversation. Take responsibility, explain and apologize for mistakes and misunderstandings caused by you.
- Ambition is good, necessary and respected as long as others are not damaged.
- Control your emotions and feelings.
The following questions help to reassure to follow the code of conduct even in more extreme situations. One should reflect all considerations with these questions before putting them into practice.
- Is it honest?
- Is it fair for all parties involved?
- Does it strengthen a sound relationship?
- Will it nurture the business?
If conflicts still arise, the parties concerned should first try to find a solution among themselves – without a greater delay and without emotions. In case this does not promote a solution consult with an adequate moderator immediately. The moderator’s task is to look for a solution that is in accordance with the code of conduct. If a solution to the conflict is still not found on the initial level an escalation bottom-up is to be introduced – if necessary involving the executive management. An escalation top-down has to be avoided.
The little green cactus
At the end of the 1980s when Sympatec set off to professionalise its appearance on exhibitions, the following happened during the Interkama at Düsseldorf …
The perfect Mero exhibition booth of red steel tubes with white panelling had been finished on Sunday evening. The booth builders had returned to Clausthal – exhausted but satisfied. The show opened on Monday morning with heavy rain and the first visitors to the booth were asking for a coat rack and an umbrella stand. It turned out that our booth was missing a coat stand!
On Monday evening on the way back to the hotel we saw a big green cactus in the showcase of an Italian furniture store. “Gufram-Multipli `86 Cactus 153 | 2000” made by the Italian designers Drocco | Mello in 1972, numbered, signed and displayed as wardrobe. We had found our coat stand!
The next day however, the sun was shining and no visitor asked for a coat stand. Instead, everybody wanted to know: what does the cactus stand for? Our company founder Stephan Röthele replied at an instant: “Look at our instruments: we have RODOS, HELOS, GRADIS, OPUS – and here we have CACTUS!” A joyful cheer was the answer to his Dadaistic explanation. “Do not laugh – cactus is the wildcard for all products which are still in the development line-up and did not make it to the exhibition in time. It is representing the promise for continuous innovations for our customers and should be recognized as the warning signal for our established competitors.”
Only our new employee from England had a better explanation: “Wow, Sympatec bears fruits from dry powders!” There was no better designation for our break-through innovation RODOS. Some visitors were sent directly to our booth with the remark: “… you should have a look at the company with the cactus.” Word of mouth at its best. The exhibition turned out very well and the little green cactus became the symbol of our Sympatec identity.
Every employee receives a little green cactus pin when he first joins the company. In order to honour outstanding achievements and jubilees, the original cactus pin has been refined in many variations. Today, there are more than 25 models in silver, gold, gemstones and decorative elements. Once a year at the international Cactus Ceremony at our headquarters Pulverhaus, the pins are rewarded to those with outstanding merits, as a welcome ritual or for other notable personal reasons. Together we sing – in German and English – the Comedian Harmonists classic “My little green cactus” as the congenial Sympatec hymn.