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Carroll School of Management

Mark Parker

President and Chief Executive Officer, NIKE, Inc.

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives’ Club of Boston

May 1, 2014

TAKEAWAY: Focused Opportunities

Robert Kraft started us off today by saying that successful CEOs have an ability to make large organizations feel small. You’re obviously running an incredibly complex organization. What are some of the things you do to make it feel small?

That’s a great question. Well, one of the things that’s—I’ll say is a challenge although I like to replace the word challenge with opportunity—is the editing process. There are literally so many opportunities in all facets of our business—by category, by country, by product type, by sport—that we have to really edit and focus on the things that really matter. And that’s probably the biggest challenge/opportunity we have. 

So for us to edit properly, you’ve got to set up some criteria that you refer to in that editing process. So it literally becomes part of a filter. And it’s not up to me, as a CEO, to do all of that filtering. It’s up to me, as a CEO, to make sure that there is a filter there that people can refer to as they make choices as to what to focus on. 

So, it’s clear to us what our big growth opportunities are, and we are incredibly aligned against those growth opportunities. Sometimes we have new opportunities, as I said, in those areas beyond what’s expected, beyond the imagination of the consumer. And those areas we want to be prepared for too. So we’re laser focused on delivering in a disciplined way on the short term while we invest for opportunities to grow over the longer term. 

And the biggest­—the best way to do that is to, again, set up a culture that is open to new ideas but also has that discipline to edit and focus on the things that really matter. And that’s gone from being a bit of a tedious process to one that we have embraced, and it’s a source of actually great energy for us.