The Elements of Collective Ambition

There is no easy path to excellence. It must be a steady drumbeat that is continually and constantly practiced.


Some companies come through hard times stronger than ever. How do they do it? They do not focus only on one goal (for example: profits or engagement). Instead, they form a shared sense of purpose. As referenced in last week’s article, a recent three year study of companies that have defied conventional logic was recently reported in Harvard Business Review. This study provided results on a model called Collective Ambition.

According to the study, there are seven elements that must be carefully integrated in order to achieve Collective Ambition:

  1. Purpose: the company’s reason for being; the core mission.
  2. Vision: the position or status the company hopes to achieve within a specified time frame.
  3. Targets & Milestones: the metrics used to assess progress toward the vision.
  4. Strategic & Operational Priorities: the actions taken (or not taken) in pursuit of the vision.
  5. Brand Promise: the commitments made to stakeholders (customers, investors, employees, partners, etc.) concerning the experience the company will provide.
  6. Core Values: the guiding principles that dictate what the organization stands for, in good times and bad.
  7. Leader Behaviors: how leaders act on a daily basis as they seek to implement the company’s vision & strategic priorities, strive to fulfill the brand promise, and live up to the values.

There is no easy path to excellence. It must be a steady drumbeat that is continually and constantly practiced. The actions must be initiated and reinforced on a daily basis by leadership in an effort to see the future as one boundless possibility. But it is not complicated. It is possible to pull together and build a future and allow the team to unleash your company’s collective ambition.

 *(Source: Ready, Douglas A., and Emily Truelove. "The Power of Collective Ambition." Harvard Business Review Dec. 2011: 94-102.