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« Be Five-Star Planners | Main | Informed and Socially Responsible Leadership: The Time is Now »

'Ambition' and 'Intention' are the New 'Mission' and 'Vision'

By Tammy Douglass

Being successful in business today is about knowing the "why" of what you're doing, Tansley Stearns, CME, CCE, told attendees at April's meeting of the North Carolina Council of CUES.

A recent Harvard Business Review article, "Betterness vs. Business," suggests that firms should exist to make the world a better place and that they should move from a focus on differentiation to a focus on actually making a difference, said Stearns, AVP/corporate strategy/governmentt relations for $4.5 billion Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Bethpage, N.Y.

Stearns said the article notes that athletic footwear company Nike has already made this key shift. Nike's old promise was that if you bought the company's shoes, you might be able to jump as high as famous basketball player Michael Jordan, but Nike couldn't directly help you do it. Now, the new promise is that if you buy these shoes, you might actually be able to run the marathon you've always dreamed of doing.

Going further with this idea, Stearns said that, in this new world of business, ambition replaces vision. Ambition answers the question of "Why are we here?" It helps companies outline the kinds of returns you will provide, and to whom. It is based on delivering genuine value to people.

Likewise, intention replaces mission, according to Stearns' presentation. Intention describes how you will achieve your amibtion, and articulates behaviors to drive amibtion forward.

There's more in the article about how to re-think strategic planning, but it seems clear that credit unions are perfectly suited to this shift. Already committed to "people helping people," credit unions can only become stronger by learning to articulate their amibtion--and their intentions--throughout their organizations and their marketing. I'll enjoy watching you do it.

Tammy Douglass is CUES' director of member relations, southeast.

Learn more about a CUES Council near you.

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