What is a vision and purpose?
- A vision is a shared picture of a team’s future.
- A good vision includes specific goals that make it real.
- To truly be shared, the vision must come from the ideas of the entire team, not only the team leader.
- A purpose expresses the team’s reason for existence powerfully and clearly.
- The purpose often already exists – it should show why the work of the team matters.
Why build a vision and purpose for your team?
- When everyone in a group thoroughly understands and shares the same vision and purpose they become motivated and highly productive.
- When a team has developed a vision, they more easily agree on the important things that they need to work on to achieve it.
- People who work toward a future that they want to build are happier and more productive than those who work only to please the boss.
Inputs to Team Vision and Purpose
- Consider first the Company’s vision, mission and values. If there are departmental goals at a higher level than the team, use these too.
- Considerable alignment with the Company’s (and/or department’s) vision is important, or you risk creating conflict and failure.
- Everyone will have their personal hopes and dreams for the team and the organisation. Find out what these are. When you create a shared vision, you help people realise that they all want the same thing. You will all become more enthusiastic and energetic.
Ways to build Vision and Purpose
These are ways to create your vision together. No one technique works for every situation. Consider mixing elements from the different methods to suit the situation and culture.
- Pairs and share
Ask people to pair up and think about how they would like things to be in future. Say to them, for example, “If you felt happy, proud and excited about coming to work in a years time, what would be happening to make you feel that way?”
Ask people to take turns listening to each other as they each talk about this question. Then ask each person to summarise the main points of their vision to the total group. Encourage people to listen and avoid criticism. List the ideas people produce on a chart. This is your vision. Set up a planning process where people work together to achieve the vision.
To define the team’s purpose, the pairs discuss the ways in which the team’s activities impact on the Company’s customers, the Company’s bottom line, and the community (both internal and external). Then discuss which of these impacts you would like to change and can change. This will help you define your team’s purpose. There is more on this in the section “The wider system” later.
You can create a picture of your vision to make it concrete and attractive. When you describe the picture and what it means to you, you use your imaginative and logical side. You often get surprising insights from your own and other people’s pictures. The pictures show you how each person wants things to be. Then ask people to explain their pictures to the rest of you as you listen carefully. Finally, use the ideas to create your vision.
- Focused brainstorming
Here, you ask people to list words on a flip chart that describe how you would like your factory or department to be. They think about what these words describe. Look for simple words like “Being professional” or “Everything running smoothly”. Then talk about what this would mean in all aspects of your work. Finally, you plan how to achieve your vision.
After you produce your vision and purpose
- Make the vision and purpose visible. Keep them in front of the team members as a reminder of what they are working to create.
- Refer to the vision and purpose when making important team decisions. Make decisions based on what action will move the team closer to the vision.
- Keep the vision alive by occasionally taking the time in meetings to reaffirm its meaning and usefulness or to make modifications in the case of dramatic changes within the team or Company or it’s environment.