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“Make the most of our assets, play at the top of our game” improves on “be best-in-class”

The general counsel of Novartis spoke at the recent Legal Week Corporate Counsel Forum. His presentation covered the strategic planning process his 200-lawyer group started in 2006. Of the three components in the plan – organization, people, and culture – the cultural goal was to “play at the top of our game, and make the most of our assets.”

I like that aspiration much more than to “be world-class” or some such thing, because every law department can strive to squeeze as much as possible from its mix of people, resources, systems and culture. Only one law department can be best-in-class and to be “world class” is very loose (See my post of May 16, 2007: misguided goals embedded in “world class”; and Aug. 22, 2006: the common overuse of “world class”.). In my book, achievable stretch goals have more usefulness than too-grand dreams.