Chapter Two

What Is Winning

Aspirations are the guiding purpose of an enterprise. Think of the Starbucks mission statement: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” Or Nike’s: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.” (The additional note, indicated by the asterisk, reads: “*If you have a body, you’re an athlete.”) And McDonald’s: “Be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat.” Each is a statement of what the company seeks to be and a reflection of its reason to exist. But a lofty mission isn’t a strategy. It is merely a starting point.

The first box in the strategic choice cascade—what is our winning aspiration?—defines the purpose of your enterprise, its guiding ...

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