Join Mike Figliuolo for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a compelling vision and mission, part of Building High-Performance Teams.
- As you go to set the direction for your high performing team, you'll need to articulate both a vision and a mission for the organization. And I'd like to offer both an explanation of what those are and provide you some techniques for crafting them and then sharing them. A vision provides a clear picture of where you're going as an organization. It articulates what you want to be and I encourage people to look three to five years out. Anything less than three ends up being too tactical and if you're looking beyond five years, it's pretty hard for people to see that far into the future and see it as a possibility.
As you articulate this vision statement, it should be something that's ambitious, but realistically possible. And that's a fine balance between the two. You want the ambitious part so the team has something to reach for. But if it's not realistic, the team may look at it and say "Well, there's no way we can achieve that.", and they won't get behind it. That vision also needs to be something that's worth doing and can win people's commitment. It needs to resonate on an emotional level. They need to look at that vision and say "I'm really excited if we can achieve that "and I want to be part of reaching that goal." The vision also needs to be differentiated from your competitors.
You're trying to carve a space out in the marketplace that says "Here's why we're better "and here's why we're going to win." And last, that vision needs to be concise. A few critical words and no buzz words. Those long visions that take up an entire page and you walk away from it saying "I don't really know where we're going." Or ones that are only going to serve to confuse and frustrate the team. So precision of your words is critical here.
Once you've laid out that vision, you also need to lay out a corresponding mission. That mission is a statement that is a cultural reflection of the values and beliefs and philosophy of the organization. It tells people this is why we exist. You're also going to, in that mission, articulate how your organization creates value for your customers or for the broader organization. The mission needs to be clear, brief, and understandable by all employees at all levels of your organization.
It should also be clear enough that outsiders can come in, hear your mission, and understand "I know how this team contributes to the broader whole." You have to clearly specify what business the organization is in. And even if you run an internal team that serves only internal customers, you should still be able to articulate "This is how my team creates value." And that mission needs to be worded so it can serve as a rallying point for the people in your organization.
And then they know how they're going to contribute to the broader whole. Now crafting a vision and mission sounds like it might be really difficult. But it can be quite easy with some very simple techniques. So get the relevant stakeholders in a room, find some time where they're going to be able to open up and not feel the pressures of the daily operations. And then find some whiteboards and some flip charts and tee up some questions. And your task as a facilitator is to simply capture all those thoughts and prompt them on things that are going to contribute to the articulation of that vision and that mission.
So, for example, you can ask people "What value do our customers get from interacting with us? "What differentiates us from our competitors? "What do we aspire to be three to five years from now?" And then the important thing is let them talk and do your best to capture everything that's said up on that whiteboard or that flip chart. Right now, you're just in input mode. Once you've gotten through some of these questions and you feel the energy is out of the room and people have contributed all their thoughts, put them on a break and then take a look at that whiteboard and look for terms and concepts that are repeated multiple times.
Those common threads are the ones where the heart of your vision and mission are. Take those common terms and write them on a blanks sheet of paper and let everyone take a look at them and figure out how can we turn those terms into a clear and simple statement? And write that draft vision statement out or that draft mission. Turn it into something that people can react to. So once you're done doing so and you have your vision, take a step back and ask people "For this vision, is this something "we can achieve in five years? "Do we reasonably believe that if we turn our teams loose, "that we would be excited to achieve this vision? "And if we got there, would the team feel like "we've accomplished something great?" When you look at the mission, ask "Does this mission truly describe why we exist "and what we're passionate about? "Does it explain how we as a team create value for our "customers, both internal and external customers?" And last, "Can people make decisions and take action "if they understand why we exist?" So, if they don't have guidance and the only thing they have is "Here's your mission.", can they choose accurately between alternatives and fulfill the team's greater purpose? So articulating that vision and mission isn't difficult, you just have to bring the right players to the room, prompt them with the right set of questions, document all their thoughts and ideas, find the common threads, and then craft it into something that's clear, simple to understand, and compelling.
Because this is ultimately how you're going to set the direction for your team.
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