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Greatness Derives From a Central Theme

Take a look under the skin of any great company and you’re likely to see a trend. Everything they do, every decision they make and every product, service and person in that company is aligned with a central theme.

A central theme is something the company believes in or is the reason the company exists. Everything flows from the central theme and because of that, it makes the company great. Take any great or successful company – TOMS, Virgin, Apple, Facebook, Red Bull, Google, Zappos etc and you’ll see that they have a central theme that everything aligns with.

By deciding on your central theme and making every decision and action associated with it, you’ll create a better company that flows better and is poised for growth. Entrepreneurs can be an excitable bunch. They brew new ideas by the day and this can be a real gift and a curse because those ideas can derail them if they’re not focused. So while ideas are great, any idea that is to be implemented needs to first pass the acid test of, does it align with our central theme, yes/no?

So the question then is what’s your central theme? Think about what you stand for. Why you do what you do. Why do you think your company exists? For a company like Apple it’s to blend art and technology to change the world. For Virgin it’s to improve the customer experience and be a consumer advocate that stands for value and quality. For TOMS it’s to create a better tomorrow by taking compassionate action today. For Facebook it’s to make the world open and transparent by connecting the world. For my company, it’s to help companies grow to positively impact global economies. It may take a little pondering to come up with yours and the secret that I suggest is to keep it real and authentic. Don’t write something that sounds good. Write something that’s true for you and that inspires you and your actions. From there you can develop it and then fully adopt it.

Once the central theme has been defined, you can align every area of the company with it. If there’s things you’re doing or products you offer that don’t align – get rid of them. If you have people that don’t seem to fit culturally with the central theme – get rid of them. If you have other companies within your company that don’t serve the central theme – get rid of them. Everything needs to align with the central theme. Once done you’ll see the magic start to happen.

The central theme is a living breathing thing. It’s something that needs to be used and applied daily. Decisions need to be weighed against it. People need to be indoctrinated culturally with it. Customers need to experience it. And once stated to someone, they need to be able to say “yes, that’s exactly how I’d describe your company”

So work on your central theme and then groove it into every fiber of what you do until you have compete alignment and you’ll be well on your way to having a great company.

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