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"Cheesy" Advice


On some recent trips, my wife was administering health screenings at two of the factories in the largest cheese-manufacturing company in the world, Leprino Foods has 5,500 employees in 19 locations around the globe. You've probably eaten their product without even knowing.

Hang on to your organizational health hats! One of the leaders in this area, Patrick Lencioni, would be proud!

Back to my wife's experience...

Her time at their factories was very similar despite the locations being far apart. During breaks, she noticed similar posters hanging up and sent me pictures. After studying them and interacting with their front-line employees to plant managers she found they all took pride in their values and realized them every day through their work together.

This piqued my interest! We had several discussions about her experience which led me to dive into their website to find out more.

Their vision is to be the world's best dairy food and ingredient company.

Their mission is to make every customer feel like the only customer through their core values of quality, service, competitive price, and ethics.

Additionally, they know they are better together and that people are the reason for their success.

It's rare to find a company that feels like their aspirations (vision, mission) are realized every day in the work they do together. Usually, these are just words on a poster or website.

Here are nine expectations from one of their posters, it starts with a quote from their founder...

"We're really good at fixing problems after they occur. How can we use that ability to prevent problems before they happen." -Jim Leprino

Preventing Problems Before They Happen (PPBTH)

1. Understand what cannot be compromised

Know what the critical tasks are and do them exactly right every time.

*Clear expectations

2. Don't ignore the warning signs

Know what those signs are and always be looking for them. Take personal responsibility for "knowing that you know' we are in good shape.

*Individual & collective responsibility

3. Share and seek "know-how"

Teach all the time, especially when there's a mistake, or we will repeat it. At the same time, we all need to be highly curious and open-minded about seeking insight from others.

*Coaching & mentoring are key

4. Manage risk smartly

We want to innovate and take risks but it's important to know the upside and the downside. Have contingencies in place. It's okay to "walk before we run" and learn our way in.

*Decision-making principles are in place

5. Never, ever get complacent

We make mistakes when we become over-confident. Don't be satisfied with less than our very best. Stay vigilant!

*Excellence always

6. Over-communicate

Lots of our problems start out as communication failures. When we get in a hurry, we assume instead of talking and listening. Don't think it, know it. Ask "Do you know and are you sure?"

*Employees "feel safe" to express themselves

7. Always have a Leprino quality mindset

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. We take pride in exceeding expectations in all that we do.

*Everyone at their best doing their best

8. Don't fumble handoffs

Recognize when situations need extra precaution, extra eyes, and extra care taken to prevent a preventable problem.

*Be intentional about safety

9. Give customers what they need

Don't give customers what they ask for, give them what they need. Carefully listen and clarify internal and external customer needs. Use knowledge and experience to prevent problems customers may not anticipate.

*Experience & wisdom helps anticipate needs


My take is that Leprino Foods is doing a lot that's right! A lot to encourage great collaboration in their whole organization regardless of where you work for them in the world and what your job function happens to be. Bravo!

Organizations are great because of the people in them. They don't become great using their people for an end goal. Articulating expectations is a great first step. Getting the environment right to make them become part of "how we do things around here" takes great leadership from everyone.

Keep leading, we need you!

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This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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