The Napkin Test

Why it's time to replace your company's bulky mission statement with a vision concise enough to fit on the back of a napkin

The most exciting business ideas fit on the back of an airplane napkin. I've mentioned Cranium co-founder Richard Tait in previous columns (BusinessWeek.com, 10/10/07), but his story is worth repeating. He told me that the idea behind his popular board game hit him on a cross-country plane trip. He and his wife had spent the weekend with friends who "dusted them" at Scrabble. Yet Tait and his wife were unbeaten at Pictionary. What if a game existed, he thought, that would give everyone who played it the chance to excel in one category or another in front of family and friends. His vision was simple: to create a game where everyone shines. Tait's enthusiasm was so contagious that he attracted partners, employees, and investors like Starbucks (SBUX) Chairman Howard Schultz. But the vision itself was strikingly simple. So simple, it could fit on the back of a napkin.

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