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Vision: Figuring Out Who You Are and What You Want to Be

Not long ago, Duke University Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke athletic department developed a list of nine principles that defined Duke athletics.  Coach K described these principles as “the things that are essential to who we are.”

The nine principles were revealed to a gathered crowd of 850 student-atheletes, coaches and administrators in Cameron Indoor Stadium by former Duke student-athletes who represent great success stories in their respective fields.  The words selected by Duke to define Duke were: (1) education; (2) respect; (3) integrity; (4) diversity; (5) sportsmanship; (6) commitment; (7) loyalty; (8) accountability; and (9) excellence.

As I read Coach K’s description of Duke’s guiding principles, I could not help but focus upon the applicability of the same methodology and mindset to my own small business and those I am fortunate enough to counsel.  I wondered whether one could gather a roomful of often cynical employees around a conference table, discuss values, and have it actually mean something tangible.

In other words, I wondered “what were the keys to a successful company vision?”

Tony Gattari, an Australian corporate consultant wrote in Good Ezines that successful corporate visions share three attributes:

  1. It’s infectious.  Just like a disease, a vision is at its most contagious when it is alive and active in the host.
  2. It  comes from within.  Rather than having management swoop in and tack a poster in the lunchroom or spend $1,000 at Successories, the vision is tied to the employees and created from the real passions and desires of the company’s leadership.
  3. It goes beyond the company’s 4 walls.  A company with a successful corporate vision extends that vision to vendors, colleagues, customers, and the business community at large — not in an evangelical way, but rather simply by the way the company interacts with the outside world.

In the privacy of their own homes and hearts, people often find themselves doing some soul-searching in December in contemplation of resolutions for the coming year.  Perhaps, and maybe even especially, in these economic times, December may be a good time for some corporate soul searching as well.