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LinkedIn-Post_MayoNote:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Code chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on their values.

The Mayo Clinic has over 4,700 physicians and scientists. Like many companies, they have a list of core values.

But they are crystal clear about which one is Number One.

In 1863, Dr. William Mayo opened a private medical practice in Rochester, Minnesota. His sons, William and Charles, continued to build the practice around a relatively innovative concept at the time—hiring a diverse staff of specialists to work as an integrated team. Their model produced better health outcomes and quickly began drawing patients from around the world.

The Mayo Clinic’s core values “are an expression of the vision and intent of our founders, the original Mayo physicians and the Sisters of Saint Francis.” There are eight of them:

  1. RESPECT—Treat everyone in our diverse community, including patients, their families and colleagues, with dignity.
  2. INTEGRITY—Adhere to the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and personal responsibility, worthy of the trust our patients place in us.
  3. COMPASSION—Provide the best care, treating patients and family members with sensitivity and empathy.
  4. HEALING—Inspire hope and nurture the well-being of the whole person, respecting physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  5. TEAMWORK—Value the contributions of all, blending the skills of individual staff members in unsurpassed collaboration.
  6. INNOVATION—Infuse and energize the organization, enhancing the lives of those we serve, through the creative ideas and unique talents of each employee.
  7. EXCELLENCE—Deliver the best outcomes and highest quality service through the dedicated effort of every team member.
  8. STEWARDSHIP—Sustain and reinvest in our mission and extended communities by wisely managing our human, natural and material resources.

However, they specifically identify One Value as their primary value: The needs of the patient come first.

Elevating One Value to be Number One makes things incredibly clear. It takes courage and discipline, since every value is important.

It has worked for Mayo. In 2018 over 1.3 million people from 136 countries went to the Mayo Clinic for care, and in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, the Mayo Clinic is the Number One hospital overall and Number One in more specialties than any other hospital in the nation.

What is your company’s Number One Value?



LinkedIn-Post_HiltonNote:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Code chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on their values.

Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a global hospitality company with a portfolio of seventeen brands, 5,700 properties, and over 923,000 rooms.

Hilton improved alignment by creating One List of core values.

Perhaps you are thinking, “Of course they have One List of values.” However, this was not always the case.

When Christopher Nassetta took over as CEO in 2007, he discovered that Hilton had over thirty different lists of core values.

Here is how he described the process of consolidating them into One List:

“We did a lot of work with teams around the world, and asked people to look at all their values statements and boil them down. Then we took all those ideas with us on a two-day offsite with about 12 of us. There was a lot of overlap, and we tried to consolidate it. What I ended up saying to them was, let’s use some of our own skills and brand it, not because I want to be cute about it, but because people will remember it. I started looking around the room and at the letters and they came together as HILTON—H for hospitality, I for integrity, L for leadership, T for teamwork, O for ownership and N for now. To reinforce them, we are constantly referring to the letters—in newsletters, in town halls—almost to the point where we are driving people crazy. But it works.”

For your reference, here is the One List of Hilton values:

  • HOSPITALITY—We're passionate about delivering exceptional guest experiences.
  • INTEGRITY—We do the right thing, all the time.
  • LEADERSHIP—We're leaders in our industry and in our communities.
  • TEAMWORK—We're team players in everything we do.
  • OWNERSHIP—We're the owners of our actions and decisions.
  • NOW—We operate with a sense of urgency and discipline.

As you can see, each value has both One Word and an expected behavior. This extra step turns static values into a dynamic corporate code that can drive behavior.

Of course, this starts with having One List.

Does your company have One—and Only One—List of core values?




Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Code chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on their values.

The Blommer Chocolate Company ( is the largest cocoa processor and ingredient chocolate supplier in North America.

Blommer unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with One DNA.

Blommer Chocolate was founded in 1939 in Chicago, Illinois, by three brothers; Henry, Al, and Bernard. For almost 80 years, the Blommer family has run the company.

The company now has over 800 employees, including the third generation of Blommers: Peter, Rick and Steve Blommer, Peter Drake, and Tori Blommer-O’Malley.

(Although these Blommer family members come from different branches of the family tree, they still share some common DNA. This could actually be confirmed by Autosomal DNA testing, which measures the number and length of common DNA segments.)

Peter Blommer, the grandson of Henry, started working for the company in 1991 in the Union City, California, plant. He became the President and Chief Executive Officer in 2009.

To manage the rapidly expanding company, Peter needed to recruit and incorporate outside executives who were not part of the Blommer family but shared the company’s DNA.

After all, your company’s DNA—just like your personal DNA—defines who you are and differentiates you from everyone else.

Here is how Peter Blommer described it, “Our unique company DNA is a function of several factors, including our history as a family business, our company values, our philosophy of management, and more. Creating company-wide alignment with the Blommer DNA was a top priority when I became CEO.”

At this point, roughly three-quarters of the senior management team is comprised of executives from outside the family.

The results from Blommer’s investments in strategic alignment have been sweet. (Pardon the pun.) The business continues to grow, the family relationships are healthier than ever, and the company is positioned to thrive for generations to come.

Your company may not be a family business, but that does not mean you can’t run it like one. You can treat your employees like family. You can treat your customers like family. You can even treat your vendors like family.

Of course, this means that you must codify your company’s unique DNA.

Do your values emanate from the founder’s DNA?



LinkedIn-Post_OneCodeEvery company has values.

But most struggle to make them more than just words on posters.

According to Wikipedia, a value system is “a set of consistent ethic values and measures used for the purpose of ethical or ideological integrity. A well-defined value system is a moral code.”

Most—but certainly not all—of the companies we studied had a codified list of core values.

Unfortunately, core values can also be a source of cynicism. Sadly, several CEOs we interviewed did not have their company’s values memorized. Dozens of employees shared stories of executives whose behaviors were in direct violation of their company’s values. Perhaps millions have been impacted by other forms of corporate hypocrisy. has built a very nice business selling posters mocking core values. Here are a few examples:

  • Perseverance: The courage to ignore the obvious wisdom of turning back.
  • Procrastination: Hard work pays off over time, but laziness always pays off now.
  • Mediocrity: It takes a lot less time and most people won't notice the difference until it's too late.

Unfortunately, Gallup’s research revealed that only 23 percent of employees know how to apply their company’s values to their work. Nonetheless, we included core values as one of the Accelerators because many exemplar companies used them effectively to create alignment. Some of the common best practices include:

  • They codified their values into One integrated value system. We call this your One Code.
  • They passionately communicate the values, so everyone knows what they are.
  • The employees—especially the senior executives—live them, breathe them, and personify them.
  • They only hire people who share their values, and never tolerate behavior that violates them.
  • They infuse their values into every fiber of the company, aligning every process, guiding every decision.
  • They reward and recognize people who demonstrate their values.
  • They justify them, so everyone knows WHY these are the values.
  • They translate their values into a set of expected behaviors. (Netflix calls this their “Culture Code.”)

Core values can’t be seen on the balance sheet, but they can be one of your company’s most valuable assets. They can allow a company to withstand a crisis. They can guide leaders faced with radically complex decisions.

Assuming they are more than just words on posters in the break room.

This week, we will explore how Blommer Chocolate, Hilton, the Mayo Clinic, and Netflix codified their values to unleash the accelerating power of alignment.

NOTE: These stories are excerpted from my book, Drive One Direction.



So, perhaps you are thinking that your company could never be a Medtronic. Your purpose will never be as inspiring as saving lives.

One Way to align everyone is to create a nonprofit or foundation as your

Today’s workforce needs to be inspired.

To stay aligned with my One Theme, I thought it would be nice to profile ONE, the international organization co-founded by Bono from the band U2. ONE is focused on ending extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.

The ONE name was inspired by the belief that One Voice, coming together with many others, could change the world for the better.

And I’d like to challenge you to believe that One Company—yours—could also come together to change the world for the better.

For example, many companies have created their own nonprofit or foundation, often using the .org domain extension as part of the brand. This becomes a secondary corporate structure that complements their for-profit business.

For example, Salesforce created Here is how they describe the impact, “Over the last 18 years, has become a vital part of the Salesforce culture—and has allowed us to engage our employees in their communities and support the effectiveness of the social sector.”

Salesforce is also one of the leaders in a corporate philanthropy movement called “Pledge 1%.” This challenges companies to give 1% of equity, 1% of employees’ time, 1% of products, and/or 1% of profits to philanthropic endeavors. Over 8,500 companies have now taken the pledge.

Since their founding, Salesforce has given more than $260 million in grants, donated 3.8 million hours of community service, and provided product donations for more than 40,000 nonprofits and higher education institutions.

Of course, there are other ways to align your company with an inspiring purpose.

In fact, the best companies find a way to align their corporate philanthropy with their core competency.

David Abney, the CEO of UPS, explains it this way, “We focus on areas where our volunteer efforts and philanthropy not only make a difference, but also where they align with our vision, which is to ‘connect a global community through intelligent logistics networks.’”

Of course, you could always adopt an existing corporate charity. Perhaps you should consider Bono’s ONE.

Does your company have One Cause that you support as part of a “we give back” culture?




Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) develops therapies that treat nearly 70 conditions, including some of the world’s most challenging chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. They have revenues in excess of $30B, operate in more than 160 countries, and have over 86,000 employees.

They keep everything aligned with their “One Company. One Mission.” framework.

This amazing success story started in a garage in 1949 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (And you thought that only happened in Silicon Valley!)

Normally, we advise companies that their mission statement should be just One Sentence. Otherwise, no one will remember what it is.

Medtronic’s mission statement, in contrast, has six sentences, multiple clauses, and is over 170 words long. While this violates our penchant for brevity, I must give them credit for longevity.

Their mission statement was written by their late founder, Earl Bakken, in 1960. They spent a few years locking it down and they have used it verbatim ever since.


  1. To contribute to human welfare by application of biomedical engineering in the research, design, manufacture, and sale of instruments or appliances that alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life.

  2. To direct our growth in the areas of biomedical engineering where we display maximum strength and ability; to gather people and facilities that tend to augment these areas; to continuously build on these areas through education and knowledge assimilation; to avoid participation in areas where we cannot make unique and worthy contributions.

  3. To strive without reserve for the greatest possible reliability and quality in our products; to be the unsurpassed standard of comparison and to be recognized as a company of dedication, honesty, integrity, and service.

  4. To make a fair profit on current operations to meet our obligations, sustain our growth, and reach our goals.

  5. To recognize the personal worth of employees by providing an employment framework that allows personal satisfaction in work accomplished, security, advancement opportunity, and means to share in the company's success.

  6. To maintain good citizenship as a company.

When you stay with One Mission for six decades, it is easy for everyone to align with it, “Nothing I can say about Medtronic today makes me happier or more optimistic about the future than the fact that the Mission is deeply embedded as a permanent part of the culture,” explained Earl Bakken.

Will your company have the discipline to stay with One Mission for six decades?




In July 2016, Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) updated their mission statement.

They changed One Word.

The original mission was to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport.”

The new one is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

Here’s why they made the change. On August 1, 2016, Tesla agreed to acquire SolarCity, the largest solar provider in America.

Here is how Tesla explained the case for the acquisition,

“We would be the world’s only vertically integrated energy company offering end-to-end clean energy products to our customers. This would start with the car that you drive and the energy that you use to charge it, and would extend to how everything else in your home or business is powered. With your Model S, Model X, or Model 3, your solar panel system, and your Powerwall all in place, you would be able to deploy and consume energy in the most efficient and sustainable way possible, lowering your costs and minimizing your dependence on fossil fuels and the grid.”

Tesla has a big mission and has a big strategy to make it happen.

To ramp production to 500,000 cars per year, Tesla alone would have consumed the entire worldwide supply of lithium-ion batteries. Therefore, they built the Gigafactory (the name comes from the word “giga,” the unit of measurement representing “billions.”) Once complete, Tesla expects the Gigafactory to be the biggest building in the world—and it will be powered entirely by renewable energy sources.

One of the key aspects of the Drive One Direction® model is the concept of “Aligned Agility.” We want companies to be both highly aligned and extremely agile. The fact that Tesla could pivot the entire company and integrate a major strategic acquisition by simply changing One Word in their mission statement is a testament to their agility.

As you might expect, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has a fascinating way to describe alignment, "Every person in your company is a vector. Your progress is determined by the sum of all vectors."

For those of you who did not get that, you might want to brush up on your linear algebra.

Tesla is a mission-driven company. By simply changing One Word, they were able to integrate Tesla Motors and Solar City.

Two companies with One (BIG) Mission.

Does your company have a mission … or a BIG One?





Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) started out selling books. Now, it sells everything.

Amazon keeps the vast enterprise aligned with One Obsession.

Jeff Bezos has built Amazon into one of the most successful and transformational companies in history. And on October 27, 2017, he became the richest person in the world.

So, what was the secret to Amazon’s amazing success?

When launched in 1995, their mission was “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”

In one of Bezos’ annual letters, he describes it this way, “There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.”

Let’s unpack this statement.

First, Bezos is obviously right. There are indeed many ways to center a business. In other words, there are many ways to align a business.

Second, Bezos presents the options as discreet choices. His implication is that your company must choose One of them. Do you agree?

Third, Bezos bridges from describing the other choices as “focused” to Amazon having “obsessive customer focus.”

“Obsessive” is an extreme word. In extreme cases, obsession can become a dysfunctional pathology.

Perhaps “obsessive customer focus” sounds extreme. But clearly, it has worked for Amazon.

Unfortunately, most companies are distracted, divided, and dysfunctional. Many others are obsessed with the wrong things.

Developing One Obsession is a tremendous way to improve strategic alignment. You will just have to agree on what to become obsessed with.

Finally, while becoming “the Earth’s most customer-centric company” was indeed Amazon’s original mission, they now describe it as one of the fourteen leadership principles that make up their DNA.

If you are inspired to copy Amazon’s example, complete this sentence: “Our mission is to become the most ________________-obsessed company in the world.”



LinkedIn-Post_MissionYour company has a mission.

Otherwise, you should not exist.

As best as I can determine, the term “mission statement” first appeared in an obscure U.S. Department of Commerce document published in 1960. Since then, it has become conventional wisdom to suggest that companies should have One.

While every company has a mission, our research revealed that many—but certainly not all—companies have mission statements.

Crafting a corporate mission statement can be an excruciating process.

In 1983, Bain and Company, the management consulting firm, embarked on the process of crafting a mission statement. The senior partners of the firm spent five days holed up in a cabin in New Hampshire. They agonized over every word and ultimately crafted this statement:

“We help our clients create such high levels of value that together we set new standards of excellence in our respective industries.”

Bill Bain, their founder and CEO, described it this way, “This is the combination of those things that we already do when we are at our best and those things that we need to do to be at our best more often.”

While most of the mission statements we reviewed were vanilla and uninspiring, a well-crafted One—like Bain’s—can help companies create alignment.

This week, we will look at how fast-lane companies addressed this issue. Amazon’s mission is internally focused and articulates what they aspire to become. Tesla’s mission is externally focused and describes what they aspire to do.

To me, aspirations are visions, not missions, but who am I to argue with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk?

Next, we will look at Medtronic. They have been guided by their mission for sixty years!

Finally, we will explore and learn how companies can make their mission more inspiring.

Of course, it is not enough to have One Mission; you must use your mission to guide both big strategic decisions and everyday tactics. You must align everyone—and everything—with it. You must prune things that are not aligned with your mission.

NOTE: These stories are excerpted from my book, Drive One Direction.




Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book,Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Vision chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on One Vision.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving ( is a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization with over 400 employees, over 8,000 volunteers, and over 200 field locations.

It all started with One Mom.

Candace Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving on September 5, 1980, after her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver.

In the nearly 40 years since their founding, drunk driving deaths have been reduced by 50%.

While that is impressive, they are intensely focused on One Number: zero.

Zero deaths. Zero injuries. Zero families impacted by impaired driving.

Here is how they bring their vision to life, “At MADD, we believe in zero. Zero fathers who aren’t there for bedtime. Zero mothers who miss the first day of kindergarten. Zero sons and daughters who never come home. We believe in zero victims of drunk driving. Since MADD’s founding, we’ve made great strides … but it is not good enough because every year, drunk driving injures over 290,000 people. It’s not good enough because every year, drunk driving takes 10,000 lives. It’s not good enough because it isn’t zero.”

MADD’s campaign to get to zero has four strategic initiatives:

  • High-visibility law enforcement, including DUI checkpoints.
  • Ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, which forces offenders to provide a sober breath sample before operating their vehicles.
  • Advanced vehicle technology, including autonomous vehicles which have the potential to eliminate roadway fatalities.
  • Public support, since everyone has a responsibility to help eliminate drunk driving.

In Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras introduced the concept of the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal or BHAG (pronounced bee-hag). Here is how they describe it, “A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.”

MADD’s “zero” is a brilliant example of a BHAG. It is clear, simple, and inspiring.

It is also a brilliant example of the One Number strategy. When you can summarize your vision in One Number, everyone knows exactly how you keep score.

Lots of numbers are important, but it is the job of the leader to define which One is the most important.

Revenue. Revenue Growth. Profitability. Market Share. Customer Satisfaction. Net Promoter. Earnings per Share. Share Price. All of these (and more) are good numbers.

Which One is the most important? That depends on how you define success. Ideally, find One Number that is simple to measure and simple to communicate.

MADD’s vision is One Word that also happens to be One Number. Brilliant!

If you had to summarize your vision with One Number, what would it be?




Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book,Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Vision chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on One Vision.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) began in 1971 as a low-cost carrier with three airplanes flying to three cities in Texas. Now, they have approximately 750 airplanes making more than 4,000 weekday departures during peak travel seasons to over nearly 100 destinations. More than 58,000 employees serve over 120 million passengers every year.

Southwest is a great example of a company whose vision statement clearly articulates their ambition.

In January 2013, Southwest launched a new vision: to become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline. 

Their vision has three components, and each can be measured.

The “most loved” component expresses how they want people—customers, employees, partners, suppliers, and investors—to feel about them. Here is how they are doing:

  • Southwest has been #1 in the DOT Consumer Satisfaction Ranking for 23 of the last 27 
  • Southwest is ranked #2 on the list of Top-Rated Workplaces in 2018 by Indeed.
  • Southwest received 301,825 resumes and hired 6,275 new employees in 2017. 

Since launching their vision, the stock is up more than 300 percent!

The “most flown” component expresses their desire to be the biggest. Here is how they are doing:

  • Southwest is America's largest domestic airline in terms of originating domestic passengers with 24 percent market share at the end of 2017.

The “most profitable” component can also be quantified. Here is how they are doing:

  • In 2017, they celebrated 45 consecutive years of profitability.

While Southwest calls it a “vision statement,” perhaps it should be called an “ambition statement.” It has three simple components, which makes it easy to understand. Each can be measured, which makes it easy for them to evaluate their progress.

In addition to their vision, Southwest also has a mission statement, a set of core values, and a purpose—to connect people to what's important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. All of these elements work together to unleash the accelerating power of alignment.

By any measure, Southwest is an amazing company. For the 24th consecutive year, they were named to FORTUNE's 2018 list of “World's Most Admired Companies.” This is just one of many accolades and awards.

Does your vision statement articulate your company’s ambition?



LinkedIn-Post_HabitatNote:  This is an excerpt from my latest book,Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Vision chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on One Vision.

Habitat for Humanity ( is a global nonprofit housing organization working in all 50 states in the U.S. and in approximately 70 countries around the world.

Habitat envisions “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

Millard and Linda Fuller co-founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976. What began as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia has evolved into a global organization that has helped more than 22 million people.

In 1996, former U.S. President Bill Clinton awarded Millard Fuller the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor—calling Habitat “… the most successful continuous community service project in the history of the United States.”

Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers. In 2018, more than 1.4 million people volunteered with Habitat, helping families achieve the strength, stability, and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves.

"With a little help, we all have the potential to stand on our own,” explained Habitat CEO Jonathan Reckford. “It is an incredible experience to help homeowners build or improve a place to live and see how they are then able to build a better life for themselves and their families."

Surveys of Habitat homeowners show improved grades, better financial health, and parents who are more confident that they can meet their family’s needs.

Providing “a decent place to live” provides the solid foundation for all of this.

While Habitat has been wildly successful, the need is still great. Over 1.6 billion people in the world do not have adequate shelter, and 100 million more have no home at all.

While 2018 was a record year for Habitat, Jonathan Reckford put their success in perspective, “We have millions of reasons to celebrate, and millions more to keep building toward a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

Maintaining focus is challenging for every company … but it is especially challenging for nonprofits. Most suffer from mission creep. After all, it is extremely difficult to say “no” to a pressing humanitarian need.

Habitat is intensely focused on housing. They are world-class great at it. I commend them for having the discipline to say “no” to thousands of good ideas so they can say “yes” to the best One(s).

At Habitat, the vision is not just a static statement printed on coffee mugs. Their vision provides an ongoing and dynamic perspective that keeps everyone—and everything—aligned.

Does your company have an inspiring vision?




Note: This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Vision chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on One Vision.

Virgin Hyperloop One ( is a California-based transportation innovator.

Elon Musk unleashed the global hyperloop revolution with One Paper.

The problem with most visions is that they are not particularly visionary.

In contrast, the vision articulated for the hyperloop by Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX fame, is an exemplar.

The origin of Musk’s vision—like all world-changing visions—was an extreme dissatisfaction with the status quo. In this case, Musk was dissatisfied with the Caltrain high-speed rail (HSR) proposal to “modernize” the rail service between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Musk wrote a 58-page paper—imagine a college physics term paper written by a billionaire CEO—outlining his vision for a radically better way to modernize and accelerate travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

He also had the audacity to suggest that his hyperloop vision would revolutionize travel worldwide in the same way he was revolutionizing the automobile industry with Tesla and the space industry with SpaceX.

“Sci-fi writers and dreamers have long envisioned ways to travel at high speeds through low-pressure tubes. Rocketry pioneer Robert Goddard in 1909 proposed a vacuum train very similar in concept to the Hyperloop. In 1972, the RAND Corp. conceived a supersonic underground railway called the Vactrain. The idea was waiting for the right combination of talent, technology, and business case to become a reality.”

In August 2014, ten months after Musk published his paper, Hyperloop One was started in a Los Angeles garage to commercialize Musk’s vision.

In May 2016, Hyperloop One launched a “global challenge” that was an “open call to individuals, universities, companies and governments to develop comprehensive proposals for using Hyperloop One’s disruptive transport technology in their region to move passengers and freight point-to-point, swiftly, and on-demand.”

The Hyperloop One Global Challenge yielded 2,600 registrants in five months.

Elon Musk wrote One Paper. It launched what may be the most transformational change in transportation in years.

Thousands of people and millions of venture capital dollars aligned behind Musk’s vision. To them, it was an inspiring purpose worth investing their lives—and their money—to accomplish.

Does your company have a visionary vision?

NOTE: In February 2018, the state of California cancelled the “high-speed” rail program after extensive cost overruns and schedule delays.



LinkedIn-Post_OneVisionEvery company has a vision.

But most of them are pretty blurry.

Only 35 percent of adults have 20/20 vision, and an even smaller percentage of companies do.

Most companies suffer from some sort of vision disorder, such as myopia—where they can’t focus on the long-term, or tunnel vision—where they get blindsided by market shifts and discontinuities.

Worse yet, according to Achievers’ 2015 North America Workforce report, a whopping 60 percent of employees did not know their company’s vision.

Fast-lane companies create alignment by having just One Vision. After all, how can you create One Company when every division has a different vision?

While it is critical to have One Vision, there are many ways to articulate one. In fact, we discovered four common ways:

  • The “visionary” vision
  • The “inspiring” vision
  • The “company ambition” vision
  • The “Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)” vision

In fast-lane companies, the process of defining the vision is as important as the vision itself. They use a collaborative process that combines top-down aspirations with bottom-up forecasts.

Assumptions are debated. Competitors are studied. Trends are extrapolated.

Of course, smart companies do a gut check before launching the vision. They understand what it will really take to turn the vision into reality. They have “counted the costs.”

There is nothing more demoralizing to a company than a unilateral, top-down vision that is more of a delusional pipe-dream than a vision.

And finally, high-performers make the case for the vision. Every executive—not just the CEO—can passionately articulate the vision and can explain why this is your vision.

Of all the visions you could have chosen, why did you select this One? If you can’t answer that question, no one will buy in.

This week, we will examine how Virgin Hyperloop One, Habitat for Humanity, Southwest Airlines, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with their unique, One-of-a-Kind Visions. NOTE: These stories are excerpted from my book, Drive One Direction.



LinkedIn-Post_BTI360-1BTI360 ( is a rapidly growing software development firm that works with government clients.

They create alignment—and a Differentiating Competitive Advantage—with an intense focus on One Thing.

BTI360 provides their software development as a prime contractor to the federal government. However, over three hundred other companies compete for the same work.

So, how do you stand out when you have 299 competitors that look alike, sound alike, and essentially provide the exact same service?

BTI360 decided that they could become differentiatingly great at “developing ultimate teammates.” This led to phrases like “software development is a team sport” that are a key part of their unique culture.

Thus, “developing ultimate teammates” became their One Thing.

MJ Wivell, their co-founder and CEO, says it this way, “Most companies use people to build the business. We use the business to build people.”

BTI360 then applied our “Decide One Thing, Align Everything, Win!” model to align everything in their company.

“Once we found our One Thing, decision-making became very easy,” said Jeremy Nimtz, BTI360’s co-founder. “We would simply evaluate everything with one simple question, ‘Will this help us become differentiatingly great at our One Thing?’”

Since going through the Decide One Thing process, BTI360 has experienced amazing results. The company has quadrupled in size and has won eight—and counting—Best Place to Work awards.

I am (obviously) biased, but I think that aligning your entire company with the strategy of becoming world-class great at One Thing is one of the best models.

Customers may not care about your vision. Or your mission. Or your values.

But they will flock to a company that is world-class great at solving One of their problems.

Is developing people your One Thing?

P.S. BTI360 calls people teammates, not employees, which is exactly what you would expect from an organization that puts people first. 




Photo Courtesy of Bud Moeller

Ferrari (NYSE: RACE) might be the ultimate fast-lane company.

When your stock ticker is RACE, you better be fast.

Ferrari began competing in the Formula One World Championship in 1950, the year the competition was established. Ferrari is the only constructor to have raced in every Formula One season—and they have won more championships than any other team.

Ferrari’s One Thing is racing, and they put their money where their One Thing is.

Ferrari invests roughly $600M per year in their Formula One racing program. While the majority of this is recovered through sponsorships and Formula One’s profit sharing, the net investment is believed to be in excess of $100M.

When you invest over One Hundred Million Dollars in one thing … it is your One Thing!

In 2003, they started Corse Clienti, which enables a small group of people to buy and race Ferrari Formula One cars. Here is how they describe the privilege, “Corse Clienti makes the car’s owner feel like a real Scuderia [Italian for “stable”] Ferrari driver. Owners don’t have to worry about anything except putting on their gloves and helmet, driving, and having fun, Corse Clienti does the rest.”

In 2010, Ferrari also started the Ferrari Driver Academy to develop young Scuderia drivers. “I’d like to think that Ferrari can create drivers as well as cars,” explained Enzo Ferrari.

A recent trip to a Ferrari store was a testament to the amazing power of Ferrari’s investment in racing.

The store’s prominent feature was a red (of course) Ferrari Formula One car on display. The store sold T-shirts, scale models of Ferrari cars, Ferrari sneakers, Ferrari hats, Ferrari luggage, Ferrari gloves, Ferrari pens, Ferrari sunglasses, Ferrari flags, and more.

There is even a children’s section that sold Ferrari onesies, Ferrari baby shoes, and all sorts of other items to indoctrinate your child into the faithful.

Several years ago, I was in Italy on the weekend of the Formula One race at Monza, Italy—the home of Ferrari. The Ferrari Scuderia won the race, and the entire nation went wild.

Very few brands achieve iconic status. Fewer still achieve the kind of fanatical evangelicalism among their customers that Ferrari does. And the most fascinating thing about Ferrari is that most of its passionate fans will never own one of their cars. (They only sell 9,000 cars per year!)

Think about that. How many people who will never be your customers are nonetheless fanatical ambassadors for your brand?

For Ferrari, it all starts with racing.

Is speed your One Thing?



LinkedIn-Post-HermanMillerHerman Miller (NASDAQ: MLHR) is a manufacturer of office furniture, equipment, and home furnishings based in Zeeland, Michigan. Founded in 1905, the company has over 8,000 employees, over 600 dealers in 109 countries, and 33 Design Within Reach retail studios.

Their One Thing is perfectly clear: “design is a central part of our business.”

Herman Miller’s designs are part of museum collections worldwide. They have also received the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and ranked Number One on Contract Magazine’s list of “Brands that Inspire” for four straight years.

Some of the notable Herman Miller designers include Charles and Ray Eames, designers of the famous Eames lounge chair and ottoman; Isamu Noguchi, designer of the iconic Noguchi table; George Nelson, known as the father of American Modernism; and Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, designers of the Aeron, Embody, and Ergon office chairs.

A visit to the Herman Miller website features the profiles of dozens of other designers from all over the world.

In the last chapter, we learned that while not everyone at Dyson is an engineer, they encourage everyone to “think like one.”

Herman Miller expresses the same idea, “You don’t have to be a ‘designer’ to make things better—for customers, for the communities we do business in, and for a better world.”

In addition to designing better furniture, Herman Miller is committed to designing better workspaces:

“Organizations are struggling with the remnants of standardized workplaces, which only accommodate two broad categories of work—individual and group—by providing two generic types of spaces—workstations and conference rooms. This type of floorplan cannot begin to support the diverse array of activities people do throughout the day.

It’s clear that we need a more human-centered and diverse model for the workplace. And to implement this model, we need a more aligned process for designing and delivering the workplace—one where each stakeholder, from Facilities to HR to IT, is connected and involved from the outset.”

They apply workspace design to improve organizational alignment!

Herman Miller is good at lots of things. Perhaps they are great at several things. But they are world-class at design.

Is design your company’s One Thing?

Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment.  In the One Thing chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on One Thing.



LinkedIn-Post_DysonFrom its origins in a small workshop in rural England, Dyson ( has grown into a technology company with a global footprint. They now employ over 8,500 people.

Dyson is good at lots of things, but they are differentiatingly great at engineering.

The Dyson website makes this crystal clear, “For us, engineering is everything.” Or, in our language, engineering is their One Thing!

Not everyone at Dyson is an engineer, but they encourage everyone to think like one. And they are focused specifically on “transforming people’s lives with our radical ideas, by solving the problems others ignore.”

The story of Dyson is a testament to the irrational perseverance required to become differentiatingly great at something. It took James Dyson five years and 5,127 prototypes to perfect the Dual Cyclone technology that is at the core of the Dyson vacuum.

In 2007, Dyson created The James Dyson Award, an international award that inspires the next generation of design engineers. Each year, hundreds of engineers submit their designs.

In 2018, the grand prize went to Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani for their O-Wind Turbine, a 25cm sphere that converts wind into electricity. Other winners included a water-cleaning robot, a smartphone device to test for malaria, and a wheelchair designed for air travel.

In 2017, the company launched the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology in partnership with University of Warwick. Students work in a position at Dyson for four days a week, receive a salary, and have their tuition fees paid, allowing them to graduate debt free.

“These capable young engineers will be developing new technology alongside world-leading engineering practitioners, creating real products that end up in real homes—doing their academic work alongside their engineering projects.” explained Dyson.

“Our philosophy remains the same as it was 25 years ago when James Dyson invented the first cyclonic vacuum cleaner. We remain family-owned. We don’t bow to outside shareholders or report to the stock exchange. Instead we plot our own path, unshackled from conventional thinking.”

James Dyson is driven to apply engineering to solve problems that other companies ignore. Perhaps that is why he is now Sir James Dyson, appointed to the rank of Knight Bachelor in 2007.

Is engineering your company’s One Thing?




Every company does lots of things.

Sadly, most never become truly great at anything.

For those of you who have not yet read my book, Decide One Thing, I will summarize it in One Sentence: you must be good at lots of things, but the way to win is to become differentiatingly great at One Thing.

In 1990, C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel introduced the idea of corporate competencies in a Harvard Business Review article entitled, “The Core Competence of the Corporation.”

More recently, Strategy&, the strategy consulting arm of PwC, advised companies to develop a set of “differentiating capabilities.” However, they do so with a word of caution:

“Too many companies don’t identify the few cross-functional capabilities they need to excel at in order to deliver on their value proposition. Not being clear about those capabilities, functions often decide to pursue functional excellence in silos. They strive to be world-class at everything they do, but often spread their resources too thin, and they don’t excel at anything.”

We strongly agree.

That is why we advise companies to pick ONE corporate competency and make it your One Thing.

Try to complete this sentence, “We are the best in the world at ______________.”

Most companies cannot honestly fill in that blank. After all, only One Company can be the best in the world.

However, every company can aspire to become the best in the world at something. So, every company can—and should—complete this sentence, “Our ambition is to become the best in the world at _____________.”

Step One is to choose something that your company could indeed become the best in the world at. And of course, there are many things that you can choose.

Step two is to align everyone—and everything—with your One Thing. After all, becoming the best in the world will require intense focus and disciplined investment. This is what turns your One Thing into a Differentiating Competitive Advantage.

We believe this is the most important component of creating alignment. Unfortunately, most companies do not have the discipline to Decide One Thing. That is why they can have visions, missions, values, and strategies … and still be massively misaligned.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you lock this down before working on your vision, mission, values, strategy … or anything else.

In the One Thing chapter of my book, Drive One Direction, we will explore how Dyson, Herman Miller, Ferrari, and BTI360 unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on One Thing.





Valiant Integrated Services ( provides mission-critical services to the U.S. Department of Defense and intelligence communities, including our Joint Forces commands, the U.S. Army, Army National Guard, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and coalition forces and has over 5,000 employees in over 20 countries across the globe.

Valiant was launched in February 2017 and certainly qualifies as a fast-lane company: they grew from zero to over $700M in fifteen months!

To build a company this fast, the executives had to quickly come together as One Team.

Valiant’s impressive growth was fueled by three strategic acquisitions. In May 2017, they acquired selected assets of the Defense & Government Services business of the Supreme Group. In June 2017, they acquired ABM Government Services, and in May 2018, they acquired Cubic Global Defense Services.

While the press releases call them acquisitions, Valiant thinks of them as mergers. As Jim Jaska, Valiant’s CEO explained, “You acquire groceries. You merge people.”

For Valiant, alignment means blending three companies, with three different cultures, different brands, and different values into One Company. Of course, this starts with molding the executives into One Team.

There is a big difference between a group of executives and an executive team.

Groups of executives sit in the same room and present PowerPoint slides to each other. But people just pretend to listen and are probably checking email.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams have a shared vision, common goals, high accountability, and demonstrate a “we before me” attitude.

To help develop your executives into One Team, consider four factors: decisions, outputs, outcomes, and shared rewards.

  • Decisions are the unique things that your executives decide as a team. In some companies, this list is actually quite small, since most of the decisions are made by individual executives without bringing the issue to the entire executive team.
  • Outputs are the unique deliverables produced by your executives as a team. These include things like corporate strategy documents, annual budgets, or company goals.
  • Outcomes are the unique results that your executive team is responsible for delivering as a team. These include things like corporate financial results, increasing shareholder value, or improving overall employee engagement.
  • Shared rewards are the percentage of incentive compensation that executives earn as a team. At Valiant, each division is run by a Chief Operating Officer. To incentivize cross-divisional cooperation, 70 percent of each COO’s incentive compensation is tied to corporate, not divisional, performance.

While Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have been together for six decades, Valiant’s executive team had to come together in six quarters. Jim Jaska has worked hard to make this happen, “When vision, objectives, and plans are shared, everyone works together to the benefit of the organization and the client.”

Do your company’s executives operate as a group or a team?




Note:  This is an excerpt from Dave Ramos' latest book, Drive One Direction.

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B) is a multinational conglomerate holding company that owns 63 companies, from Acme Brick to the XTRA Corporation. The diversity of industries where they compete includes candy confectionery, retail, railroad, home furnishings, airlines, publishing, manufacturing, real estate, utilities, and more.

This eclectic mix of businesses is held together by One amazing Team.

Warren Buffett met Charlie Munger in 1959.

They have been business partners for six decades and have created billions in corporate and personal wealth.

"We've had so much fun in our partnership over the years," Buffett told CNBC in a joint interview with Munger, who called the partnership "almost hilarious, it's been so much fun."

Munger added they "don't agree totally on everything, and yet we're quite respectful of one another."

Buffett quipped that when they do disagree, Charlie says, “Well, you'll end up agreeing with me because you're smart and I'm right.”

(I tried using this line with my wife, but it did not go over very well!)

Jim Collins made “getting the right people on the bus” part of the business lexicon. But the real issue is aligning all the bus drivers to work as One Team … driving in One Direction. Fragmentation and infighting among the leadership team is one of the most caustic problems an organization can face. Yet, it is far too common.

Teamwork, alignment, and trust start at the top. The organization is never more aligned than the executive team.

But addressing executive team alignment issues will take courage. Skeletons will have to come out of the closet. Dysfunctional interpersonal relationships will need an intervention. People will have to address the conflicts they have been avoiding.

Someone will have to tell the emperor that he—or she—has no clothes.

Unfortunately, most executive teams never really deal with their misalignment issues.

Why? Because executives are afraid to speak their minds. Their need for self-preservation kicks in.

We see this all the time. We can tell that executives are holding something back. We can see their discomfort with the discussion or the decision that is about to be made. Yet, they are afraid to speak up.

Google just did a fascinating study about teams. They concluded that “psychological safety” was a key component of high-performance teams. It is this psychological safety that creates the environment for executive teams to have vigorous and candid debates about the company.

Psychological safety is the prerequisite to candor. And candor is the key to productive debates.

Creating psychological safety starts at the top. CEOs must create an environment where candor is valued, and opinions can be expressed without retribution.

How does your company’s executive team resolve conflict?



LinkedIn Post_CARLYLEThe Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) is a global alternative asset manager with over 1,600 professionals operating in 31 offices around the world. They manage over $200B on behalf of over 1,925 investors from 90 countries.

Carlyle unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with their One Carlyle Culture.

At The Carlyle Group, alignment was built into the company by their three founders from Day One.

In fact, the One Carlyle Culture is a key component of how they deliver value to their customers. Glenn Youngkin, Carlyle’s Co-CEO explains it this way, “Our professionals work together across product lines, sectors, and time zones to harness the knowledge, resources, and wisdom in our global operation to help create value for our investors.”

“Carlyle has a culture of cooperation that is genetically embedded in the organization. If you look at our investment teams, we almost always have co-heads, not single heads. It is not a weird thing at Carlyle—in fact, it’s the opposite,” explained Kewsong Lee, Carlyle’s other Co-CEO.

Obviously, this idea also was used when Carlyle appointed Glenn Youngkin and Kewsong Lee as the firm’s Co-CEOs.

The private equity model has many virtues, but one foundational aspect is the alignment of interests.

Since the firm’s inception, Carlyle professionals, Operating Executives, Senior Advisors, and other professionals have committed more than $11 billion of their own money alongside their fund investors. When an investment succeeds, everyone benefits. When an investment fails, everyone loses.

“We constantly work to break down the natural silos that might exist across funds, across countries, and across sectors. In the end, we are only as good as our people,” explained Pete Clare, Carlyle’s Co-Chief Investment Officer. “And we are better when we work together in the spirit of One Carlyle.”

They also use recognition to reinforce their culture. Each year, the firm presents one employee in the world with the One Carlyle award, the highest honor that can be bestowed on an employee.

The Carlyle Group designed a culture of teamwork to deliver extraordinary value for its investors. Clearly, it has worked. The three founders are all billionaires.

Does your company have a One-Company culture?



Alan Mulally was the CEO of Ford (NYSE: F) from September 2006 to June 2014.
During his tenure, Mulally led a highly successful alignment initiative called ONE FORD.
Perhaps more than any other exemplar we studied, the ONE FORD plan embodied the Drive One Direction mindset. That is why it is our first One.
Besides, what better way to start the exemplars than with a car company that is driving in One Direction!
Mulally’s turnaround of Ford is now legendary. Business “Hall of Fame” legendary.
The ONE FORD plan had several components that were so simple that Mulally had them printed on the back of business cards he would hand out. Here’s what they said:
ONE TEAM: People working together as a lean, global enterprise for automotive leadership, as measured by: Customer, Employee, Dealer, Investor, Supplier, Union/Council, and Community Satisfaction.
ONE PLAN: Aggressively restructure to operate profitably at the current demand and changing model mix; Accelerate development of new products our customers want and value; Finance our plan and improve our balance sheet; Work together effectively as one team.
ONE GOAL: An exciting viable Ford delivering profitable growth for all.
In addition, Mulally created sixteen “expected behaviors” that formed the basis of the cultural transformation. (This list is available in my book, Drive One Direction.)
Mulally also instituted a new management process known as the Business Plan Review. Every Thursday, Ford’s entire global leadership team was required to attend. This provided a very practical and hands-on way for Mulally to add management discipline to the ONE FORD plan.
“The expected behaviors and the Business Plan Review created the culture and management system to align everyone around a compelling vision, a comprehensive strategy, and a relentless implementation plan” said Mulally. “Everyone knew the plan, the status against that plan, and all the areas that needed special attention. Everyone was working together to change the reds to yellows to greens.”
In 2014, FORTUNE magazine named Mulally the third best leader in the world, following Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The ONE FORD plan produced amazing results. During Mulally’s tenure, Ford rebounded from a $12.7 billion loss in 2006 to a $6.3 billion pre-tax profit in 2014. The stock price roughly doubled during his 8 years as CEO and rose an astonishing 1,640 percent from the low during the financial crisis.
Does your executive team work as One Team?