PEOPLE have asked me to explain more about this concept of “deep values” – and in particular, to give examples.

Today let’s explore New Belgium Brewing, which is based here in Fort Collins.  On the surface, they’re a fast-growing craft brewer, best known for their Fat Tire Amber Ale.  But they have other great beers too, and set the standard for craft brewers in this region.

New Belgium is expanding rapidly across the US, currently in 28 states.

Last year, the company announced that it would start expansion to the east coast, and after significant investigation, settled on Asheville, North Carolina.  Why is this relevant?

NBBcultureWell, people here in The Fort were shocked to hear that there was any resistance to New Belgium coming to the city.  You have to understand:  Here, the company is viewed as a jewel of corporate character.  When you talk to people in town, they’ll say that they would take ANY job with the company, just to get in the door.

New Belgium is all about treating its people right.

No, it’s not that they can pay really well.  Beer’s a competitive industry – they’re doing pretty well, but they’re not creating millionaires over there.  But they involve their employees in every significant company decision.  For instance, the decision to expand to a second site (all the way across the country!) was hotly debated, with great discussions about how they would manage to preserve the company culture.

If y0u want to see how it’s coming along, go follow the “Brewery” link, then click on “Asheville”.  You’ll see how much emphasis they’re putting into community involvement at every level.

How do we know that employee involvement is a core value of New Belgium?  You can get a feel for it from their website, just by looking at all the places where they talk about employees, culture, and so on.

But that might just be a marketing facade.  The way we know it is by talking to the employees.  They’ll mention unusual job titles, full-company meetings, and their rigorous hiring process (which is more based on character than on skills.)  They’ll tell you that New Belgium is unlike any other place they’ve ever worked.  They’ll show you the ridiculously low turnover rate.

And if you follow the CEO, Kim Jordan, you’ll see her mention the employee culture constantly.

It’s just the way they think.

If you tried to change this, there’s a good chance you’d destroy the company.  Even the CEO would be quickly tossed out if he or she tried to damage it.

But, lest you think that deep values are immutable – there are indeed examples of where deep values changed over the course of years and decades.  I’ll talk more about that in the future.

You can’t be complacent just because it’s a well accepted deep value.