What Is a Business Compass and Why Is It Important?

Back in 2011, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review magazine entitled “The Power of Collective Ambition” (by Douglas A. Ready and Emily Truelove) that introduced a concept called the Business Compass.

The business compass is a simple diagram that shows very clearly what your business does, why it does it and how it will get it done.

The diagram brings together into one integrated picture the organization’s Vision, Mission, Values, Strategic Goals and Operational Priorities, Brand Promise and Leadership Behavior. It provides extreme clarity for anyone who is wondering what the organization is all about.

After reading the article, I applied the concept to the business I was running and was impressed with the focus that it brought to the organization. A diagram of the model and the definition of its components are described below. You can download the Business Compass Visio template from the Business Tools page.


Vision – A powerful picture of the future which creates an ideal and unique image of what the organization will become or achieve. It provides the reason for the organization’s existence. It defines the organization’s WHY and is the organization’s “North Star.”

Mission – The mission defines exactly where you are going and what you are doing right now to attain the vision.  Essentially, a mission details WHAT the organization does every day to work towards achieving the Vision.

Core Values – Describes the behaviors that will get you from where you are now to achieving your mission and ultimately attaining the vision.  These driving behaviors govern HOW the organization drives toward successful Outcomes and they are the foundation of any organization.

Strategic & Operational Priorities – These are the high level strategic goals that have been set by the organization. Achievement of these goals move the organization towards achieving the mission and vision.

Brand Promise – This is a simple but powerful statement that explains what your organization’s brand promises and delivers to all of its stakeholders.

Leadership Behaviors – These are the key behaviors that you expect from your organization’s leaders. These behaviors support the vision and mission and are in line with the values. The leaders set the culture for the organization so establishing how leaders are to behave is critical.

Spend some time and create a Business Compass for your organization and use it as a tool to communicate with your employees.


In previous blog posts I have written about Vision, MissionValues , Brand Promise, Strategic and Operational Priorities, and Leadership Behaviors and now with the business compass tool, you will have a way of expressing these very clearly to your organization.

Spend some time this week and complete a Business Compass for your organization and use it as a tool to communicate with your employees.

If you just communicate you can get by. But if you skillfully communicate, you can work miracles.Jim Rohn

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