A three year study of companies that have defied conventional logic was recently reported in Harvard Business Review. This study provided results on a model that was deemed Collective Ambition. The companies that were studied do not pursue a single ambition, such as profits. A collective ambition supersedes individual goals and incorporates key elements required to achieve and sustain excellence within the organization.
Collective Ambition is not a new concept. It has been around for years in organizations that are engaged with employees and other stakeholders while still maintaining profitability. Engagement is the latest concept that everyone is trying to incorporate into their organizations. But for many, the topic is too narrowly defined.
An example of the power of collective ambition is the Four Seasons hotel chain. In 2008, the hotel giant was facing hard times with vacationers cancelling and business travelers seeking cheaper options to the bad economy. The Four Seasons clarified its purpose and repositioned itself for industry leadership by using a tool referred to as a compass. The compass incorporated several elements:
- Core Values,
- Brand Promise, and
- Strategic & Operational Priorities.