It is not enough to say you're going to be great

To all CEOs, it's not enough to say that your company is going to be great. To have any chance at being great, you need to need to go much further and at the minimum have simple answers to the following questions?

  1. What is the company going to be great at? The answer should not be everything. You must be able to complete the following equation: Company = X (e.g. Google = Search; Walmart = Low Prices;  Zappos = Custom Service). If you are writing five paragraphs with words like "solutions", "integrated", "full-service" or "monetization", go back and start again.
  2. What is the definition of great for your company? The answer should not be "a really big company that makes a lot of money". Yes, making a bunch of money is great, but you are not going to be next Google. If you had just 1% of Google's 2009 revenue (23 billion), you would be making $230 million. Lets not get greedy now.
  3. Who and what do we need to be great? The answer should not be acquisitions, outsourcing, capital or more executives. It should be a list of talents, skills and infrastructure needed to support your employees.
  4. Who are trying o be great for? The answer should not be our shareholders and investors. The answer should be a specific type of customer, not everyone. Also, don't forget your employees!

One other quick point. You will not be determining whether you have reached your goal of being great. Your employees and customers will. Try asking them.