Vision. Never enough.

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Vision. A powerful word that is often hard to define and understand. I have been involved with a lot of satisfaction surveys. Also, I have repeatedly done Team Self Assessment* in my teams. Company / customer / team vision’s score is hardly ever close to perfect. Even if you talk about it constantly in your own opinion.

First, let’s define vision. In university my strategic leadership teacher explained it simply: mission states why we exist, values state what we believe in, vision states where do we want to reach (or what do we want to achieve) and strategy states what is the plan to get there. There are several other definitions, but they are similar. The core idea behind it is: to do things passionately and with care, people need to understand the reason. Why is this customer important for us? Why is there a deadline? Why are we doing this software? Why do we have team meetings? Why … ? My experience shows that if you answer only the detail level why’s and forget to constantly remind the big picture (in other words the vision), then it is more likely, that people still don’t get a strong feeling of the importance of their work. There is a saying by the Dalai Lama: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” It demonstrates how everyone in the company and in the team makes a difference. Recently I had a chat with a friend who said that if the company’s cleaning-person is not motivated and enthusiastic about the company, then they affect others as well. True. The myth that vision is just for management is not valid.

If you are still reading, then I believe you understand the need to share a vision. Next question is ‘how to do it’. Simply mentioning  here and there is not enough. Once again play comes to help. This time I won’t point out one certain method for it. Just use your creativity, plan some time for it and do it. Create a shared vision that includes:

  • What’s in it for me?
  • What’s in it for us as a team?
  • What’s in it for my company?
  • What’s in it for the world?

Those questions together with one possible game for it comes from Lyssa Adkins book “Coaching Agile Teams” again. My favorite part of this exercise is to ask everyone in the team to write down a sentence starting “When this project (or year or …) is over, I want to say I have…”

Just yesterday I got another idea for vision talk – have the chat with the team while walking from one physical place to the other. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I certainly will and then will share that experience!

* Team Self Assessment is a questionnaire where team gives feedback to how well they work together. You can google for examples. I have one with 33 questions in 5 categories – team foundation, team functioning, team skills, team climate and atmosphere and team identity. If you wish to get my example, just ask. I would be glad to share.

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