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Developing A Team Vision Statement

Key Messages:
  • Defines the future you want to create
  • Is a vision not a prophecy
  • Provides a rallying call which energizes team members

Keep this in mind when developing a team vision statement:

The purpose of your vision statement is to stretch boundaries and comfort zones and enable the people within the organization to have a sense of what could be.

Back in the 1980's Microsoft's vision of, "A computer in every home running Microsoft software" may have seemed absurd to most people. In fact, it was likely there were people within Microsoft trying to water this vision down. Yet, it is this rallying cry that has driven Microsoft's success.

The spirit of your vision statement will drive the behaviors, creativity, commitment, engagement and determination of the people within the organization.

If your vision statement opens people's eyes to what is possible, and inspires them to work toward achieving it, then it has served its purpose well.

Of course, it is the leader who must constantly and energetically remind and rally people to the vision.

The Elements Of A Good Vision Statement

Keep this list handy as you are developing your team vision statement - and check regularly that your statement gets a tick against each element:

  • Sets a standard of excellence
  • Clarifies direction and purpose
  • Inspires enthusiasm and commitment
  • Bridges the present and future
  • Is clear and easy to understand
  • Is ambitious (not limited by current circumstances or what is perceived possible)

When you are developing a team vision statement, you are always dealing with the future. You are describing the destination towards which you are aiming. You are not setting out how you are going to arrive - that comes much later. Your vision statement is never static, but always dynamic and is designed to set free an organization's energy. Here are examples of Vision Statements:

Disneyland: Create a place for people to find happiness and knowledge

Ford: Produce a car that everyone can afford

Girl Scouts: Help a girl reach her highest potential

Cirque du Soleiol: Invoke the Imagination; Provoke the Senses; Evoke the Emotions

Zappos: The online service leader

The most powerful vision statements, generally involve and energize people throughout the organization. It gives them a cause to rally behind, feel engaged by, and see that what they are doing is worthy.

For example: You could create a vision statement that says:

Frozen Food that tastes as good as Mum's

Short and sharp... it's a good vision statement. Yet to really get people to rally behind it they need to understand why this is important. So whilst you may have that short eight word sentence as your rallying call - sitting behind it will be a longer description which will include an intent statement like:

"Achieving this vision means that we can provide wholesome nutritious food to families, and children in particular. It means that we will be able to enhance the health of our customers and thus raise the quality of life of our community."

The Steps in Developing A Team Vision Statement:

  1. Make it big enough that there will always be passion and energy as you grow toward it

  2. Word it, so it serves as an energy source and rallying point for the organization

  3. Imagine it is 10 years out, and you are being interviewed by Oprah, what have you achieved, what difference have you made, what are you proud of

  4. Write it in the present tense

  5. Make it emotive - you want to stir passion

  6. Summarize the Vision Statement into a powerful phrase, that people can easily grasp: for example, NASA's "Put a man on the moon by the end of the decade" was the central focus for thousands of people, who worked in that organization, and each and every one of them knew that no matter what role they fulfilled they were part of the team putting a man on the moon.

Communicating The Vision - The Leaders Role

It is the role of the leader to be the direction setter and spokesperson for the Vision Statement and breathe life into the Vision.

This story illustrates:

There were three men laying bricks.

The first is asked "What are you doing?" ... "Laying these darn bricks"

The second is asked "What are you doing?" ... "Feeding my family"

The third is asked "What are you doing?" ... "I'm part of the team building a cathedral so that people can come and worship to their God and feel at peace"

The third bricklayer is involved in, and energized by, a task that transforms the actual work being done into an achievement that is far greater than he alone could attain.

Developing a team vision is an exercise in putting into words the beliefs, emotions, hopes and desires of all who will work together in the organization. But the vision is more than just words on paper. Never simply draft the vision statement and post it in books, wall hangings or on coffee mugs... that won't create the culture or the passion that you want.

How To Bring A Vision To Life

Nurturing the culture of the business and providing direction is the most important role of the leader. Communicating the vision is something that the leader must live and breath. Use metaphors, stories and examples to continually connect people to the bigger vision of why they are doing what they are doing.

Curious about how to bring the vision to life, so it engages people? In the ebook Managing Change In The Workplace, I describe in detail how to weave stories with your people, so that they are inspired by moving toward the vision.

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