Mark Abbott, CEO of Ninety, standing on top of a rock formation, looking into the distance.



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Two employees seated at a table, working on their laptops.

Why does our company exist? Where are we going? Who are we as a people? What are the values of our Ideal Team Members? What’s the big dream we are collectively pursuing? Who are our Ideal Customers? Why do our Ideal Customers do business with us? What major short- and long-term goals align us and help us plot our progress?

For some companies, these questions are easy to answer. For others, they are a work in progress. Great companies consist of a tightly knit group of people with a unified, aligned, relatively small set of dreams, commitments, and goals, which we call a Vision.

Tool Overview

While the terminology used to describe the components of a company Vision may vary from company to company, a great company Vision clarifies the following:

  • Our Core Values — the values of our ideal team members
  • The Purpose, Passion, and Just Cause that drive us day in and day out
  • Our Marketing Strategy, including:
  • Our Goals, including:
  • Our SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

At Ninety, we house this essential information in our customizable Vision tool so everyone in our company understands who we are, where we’re going, and what guiding principles will get us there.

Some executives hold this information close to their chests, but we think this is a serious mistake. Great companies embrace a Vision big enough that all team members can see their own dreams being attainable if they share in the journey. The entire company needs to align with this Vision: they need to see, understand, and embrace the company's dreams, commitments, and goals as their own.


The Vision tool is an essential frame of reference for everyone in the company. Each component of the Vision is part of the compass of ideas and agreements that guides the decisions people in our organization make.

Company Rocks are prominently shared in the Vision tool because they indicate priorities for the next quarter. Rocks pave the path for 1-Year Goals, providing team members with a clear avenue toward realizing 3-Year Goals and reaching for Compelling Audacious Goals (CAGs). When Rock owners know how their Rock builds up to the company’s CAGs, it's easier to get excited about how significant that progress is to the company’s future.

In an ideal world, we hire people who share the same core values and whose personal goals align with the company’s goals. They see how our dreams and their dreams complement one another. However, even in the best circumstances, team members need the occasional reminder to course-correct. The Core Values feature inside the Vision tool reminds team members what ties the company together.  

And most importantly, our Purpose, Passion, and Just Cause are declared in the Vision tool. How can the recruiting team hire the right people if they don't know our Just Cause? The Just Cause is the needle of our compass. Starting at this base level reveals the importance of our Vision and how much our Just Cause and CAGs permeate the business. 

Core Disciplines of a Great Vision

  1. Use terms the whole company can align with so team members in the trenches are just as excited about the Vision as the Senior Leadership Team.
  2. Keep it simple. For example, a Just Cause filled with industry jargon might work within the company but come across as clunky when communicated to the outside world.
  3. Shout it from the rooftops! Core Values and Just Cause shouldn’t be secrets. Instead, share them widely to attract Ideal Customers and future team members.
  4. Remember to SMARTen your company Rocks and CAGs. Clearly defined and measurable goals are infinitely more likely to be reached. 

Hopefully Helpful Hints

  • We’re often asked how often the Just Cause and CAGs should be updated. Just Cause is a deeper purpose. Thus, it should only change when there’s a massive realignment across the company. It's worth reviewing during Annual and Quarterly Planning Meetings, but don't expect seismic shifts.

    On the other hand, CAGs will inherently need updating as the due date approaches. Eventually, they’ll become 3-Year Goals, then part of our annual plan. Planning Meetings are the time to address these updates.

  • Truly important things have names. Consider this while working on the Marketing Strategy. The power of giving something a name is that it sharpens its definition. A B2B company’s customers aren’t just “businesses,” they are “small and midsize businesses.” The blog name shouldn't be just "Company Blog.” Rather, it should be "An Inside Look at the Company."

  • We believe the magic number for Core Values is between three and seven. Any more, and they begin to lose their punch, so practice keep/kill/combine. If the team struggles to define Core Values, think of the most vital team members in the company. They usually exemplify the Core Values we’ll want to see in new hires.


When the concepts behind Just Cause, Core Values, and CAGs are understood and shared through the Vision tool, an entire company can unite behind a singular Vision. 

What’s next? Visit the 90u Library or try Ninety today.

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