Working at Nike: A Culture Of Just Do It
15 core values that allowed Nike, Inc. to innovate, disrupt and flourish.
Phil Knight can enjoy life now, after all the sleepless nights, perseverance, uncertainty, and obstacles he endured to make Nike, Inc. a household name and transcending global brand. We all can benefit from his story, experiences, and timeless wisdom. Before Nike became an iconic company, and Knight made zillions, he was struggling to stay afloat and make weekly payrolls. The path for Phil Knight and the company we have come to know today as Nike was not easy, nor was it without problems. The inside story of the company's early days as a start-up and its evolution into one of the world's game-changing, and profitable brands is documented brilliantly in Phil Knight's memoir Shoe Dog.
While Knight was building a cohesive culture in Beaverton, Oregon, he needed core principles that the team could adhere to and follow. Many working at Nike adopted these fifteen core values the company flourished on:
1. Don't settle for the status quo. Challenge It!
Love this one, always look for ways to get better. When you hear, "this is the way we have always done something," then the end is near.
2. Ask the right people the right questions.
As Albert Einstein once said, "give me an hour to solve a problem; I will spend 55 minutes figuring the right questions to ask." How you frame questions helps to learn—spend more time on the question.
When it works, keep doing it, don't get bored.
4. We are not collectors. We will throw things away—can not hang onto something that is not working.
Going the wrong way is only bad if you keep going. Detours and change of plans work.
5. Keep talking. Silence never solves problems.
Communication is critical. We have no idea how or why we get ideas, but we do know words spark thought. Keep talking, even to yourself. Teach engagement.
6. Find fresh air, before, during, and after every meeting.
Take a walk every day, let the fresh air, the vitamin D revitalize your mind.
7. No idea goes unchallenged.
Embrace being challenged. Deconstruct and reconstruct your ideas. You will grow as a person.
8. Energy is needed.
No one makes progress being lazy and uninspired, become excited and energized.
9. Be a healthy skeptic.
Don't be afraid to say what you feel and allow others to do the same. Find friends who will be your skeptic.
10. It ALWAYS costs more to achieve goals than thought initially.
Pay the price—nothing comes easy—and be prepared to go the extra mile. There is no finish line!
11. We were built on conflict. We embrace conflict—we love conflict.
Nike is a corporation created on conflict. Its greatness is achieved by way of conflict. Don't be afraid of healthy confrontation. You will feel empowered when you do.
12. Your best is not good enough—we need more.
As Vince Lombardi once said, "the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more." Do more.
13. What was acceptable yesterday is not good enough today.
If we hang on to yesterday, how can we get better today? We must improve and focus on getting 1% every day as individuals and a collective group.
14. There are more opportunities than resources, learn to prioritize.
What is urgent may not be important. Learn to say NO to the urgent but unimportant.
15. Leaders have courage.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes, or avoid the obvious. Dealing with the proverbial "elephant in the room" is vital.
After reading these fifteen core values, there is little doubt how and why Nike, Inc. has been successful in its growth and sustaining their success. You can apply these fifteen lessons to your daily personal and professional lives. Review them once a week to make sure we stay on track. Find the ones that you must work on, and get busy just doing it. Because as Phil Knight would say, "Life is growth. You grow, or you die."
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