126 – Shattering decision on pet food quality

Company values enable your people to act quickly and have confidence that they’ve made the right decision. Listen to hear a story of values in action from Mars.

Factory exterior

Welcome to another episode of Anecdotally Speaking! In this episode, Shawn shares a values-in-action story from Mars! You’ll hear how Five Principals—Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, and Freedom—guide decision-making within the international organisation and an example of what this looks like in practice.

Shawn first heard this story from Mim Gaetano. Mim was Corporate Ombudsman at Mars from 2014 until his retirement in 2017.

For your storybank

Tags: action, decision-making, quality, values, values in action

This story starts at 01:41

When Mim Gaetano first started at Mars, he worked in a pet care factory, where pet food was made, in Wodonga, Victoria. He had only been with the company for a week when he came in early one morning and found a group of senior leaders huddled around a table, looking very concerned and digging through pet food.

He could tell they weren’t happy, so he asked his colleagues, “What happened?”

The night prior, a fluorescent light had exploded in the factory, its glass shattering and spraying across the factory floor. The leaders were worried their product might be contaminated. They debated whether it would be possible to detect the glass but soon concluded that it would be impossible.

With Mars’ Five Principals front of mind—Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, and Freedom—the leaders quickly decided to throw out the equivalent of a million cans of dog food. They simply couldn’t be sure the product didn’t have glass in it.

The event reinforced Mim and his colleagues’ belief in Mars’ company values. Meanwhile, the senior leaders had covers made for the lights to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

About  Anecdote International

Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.


  1. Cameron Houston says:

    Mars is full of legendary stories that carry cultural meaning. I’ve heard a story told twice by unconnected ex-Uncle Ben’s (now Pedigree Pal) employees of a time when one of the Mars family threw a chair through a newly erected office and terminated the person who authorised it in order to reinforce that NO-ONE gets an office at Mars and I’ve heard a story told about one of the senior managers (maybe a Mars family member again?) stopping mid-sentence in a conversation on the shop floor to go and fetch a ladder and change a blinking fluorescent tube himself to demonstrate that whoever sees a problem needs to take responsibility for fixing it. I was also told a story about a senior manager who would taste the dog food at the plant to signal that if it’s not fit for our consumption then we shouldn’t ask people to feed it to their dogs.

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