Idea in Brief

The Definition

Corporate principles are distinct from mission, vision, and value statements. They guide decision-making, especially during crucible moments, and help companies explain their choices to key stakeholders.

The Design

To craft principles for your organization, identify its unique qualities. Draw insights from pivotal company decisions. Involve employees in drafting and refining principles, and align them with goals, key metrics, and budgets.


Box tells its employees to prioritize giving “access to all the files and information our users need to get work done from anywhere.” Tableau Software conveys its quality standards by declaring, “We won’t release a product until we would use it ourselves.” Patagonia adheres to its principle “Protect our home planet” by disallowing permanent third-party branding on its gear, which reduces reusability.

On January 8, 2021, an unprecedented move reverberated through the digital sphere. Under the stewardship of Jack Dorsey, then its CEO, Twitter banned a sitting U.S. president, Donald Trump, from its platform. The social media company explained this action by saying that Trump had violated its user policy by inciting violence. Nearly two years later Elon Musk, now at the platform’s helm, reinstated the former president’s account.

A version of this article appeared in the November–December 2023 issue of Harvard Business Review.