Building a Company Vision from the Inside Out: We Begin


When we last left off we were discussing the awkwardness of a pubescent company. See the introduction here. Today, Ashley begins the journey that should end in a BHAG. Not sure what that is? Continue on and see if you can set your sights on something Big, Hairy and Audacious…

Part 1: Finding our Vision

In order to do this we’ve got to dig deep. The end goal is a mission statement, but there is much reflection, thought, and work ahead of us before we’ll get there. We’ll be brainstorming:

1. What is our core ideology?

2. What are our core values?

3. What does our envisioned future looks like?

4. What sort of big hairy audacious goals (BHAG) we can set our sights on achieving?

In our initial research phase of this project a colleague of mine, Bo, sent along a fabulous article that I’d highly recommend to anyone else going through this process. It’s called, ’91Building Your Company Vision‘ by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras. (I will be leaning heavily on his work through the rest of this post/series so please give him credit where due!)

I’ll admit it; all this ’91vision talk’ sounds fluffy. But truth be told, the need for companies to have a clear understanding of their purpose is greater now more than ever. In our increasingly globalized society, in order to retain, motivate, and attract outstanding employees, companies must make their work meaningful (Collins). So where does one start in this massive undertaking? Defining your Core Ideology of course! Core ideology defines what you stand for and why you exist. Your core ideology will never change. An example would be the truths in the Declaration of Independence – we’d be in trouble if someone took a big red pen to those invaluable statements.

The process that Collins outlines for developing a core ideology is to come up with two distinct parts, core values and a core purpose. Brainstorm a list of 3-5 core values (if you have more than 5 you are more than likely confusing core values with other things such as operating practices or business strategies). Once you have your refined list, ask yourself, ’91If circumstances changed and we were penalized for holding this value, would we keep it?’ If you cannot honestly say yes, then it is not a core value.

So who from your organization should be in on the brainstorming sessions? Collins suggests creating a Mars group – that is, you’ve got 1 space shuttle w/ 5-7 seats headed to Mars and you’ve got to pick who fills the seats. Ask yourself who in the company, across different departments, is a “representative slice” of your company DNA. That is, they are highly competent and credible and they live out and are exemplars of your core values.

Here is a list of questions (suggested by Collins) that individuals should be able to answer:

-What core values do you personally bring to your work?

-What would you tell your children are the core values that you hold at work and that you hope they will hold when they become working adults?

-If you woke up tomorrow AM w/ enough money to retire, would you continue to live those core values?

-Can you envision them being as valid for you in 100 years from now as they are today?

-Would you want to hold those core values even if at some point they became more of a competitive disadvantage?

-If you were to start a new organization tomorrow in a different line of work, what core values would you build into the new organization regardless of its industry?

If you work for a company and you are unclear as to what your core values are, try borrowing some of Collins’ framework and running through some of the exercises. It’s a great team building activity and can actually turn out to be pretty fun! This is the stage we are at right now for Name.com. We have done our research and selected our Mars group, next step will be explaining the importance of these activities to the team and then begin the brainstorming sessions.

As we sit around and brainstorm these topics, we’re interested to hear what you guys have to say. What does Name.com mean to you??

Stay tuned; the next topic is on developing a Core Purpose.

P.S Do you find this interesting? Is there anyone out there involved in a start up or thinking of starting a business or project that finds this information useful? It sure gets my heart pitter-pattering, but I want to make sure I’m providing content you guys enjoy reading and keep coming back for. If you’d rather hear about something else please let me know! :)




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