Can you clearly en-vision your team’s desired future success? The most important work of any team (and often the hardest work) is to develop a clear picture of the team’s intended end-state. I have never worked with a team, whether a top team, a project team or functional team, that has a clear vision from the start. Even when the team leader and the team consider their vision as clear, we find out that there are valuable opportunities for getting really clear.
Everything Remarkable Result Starts With An Idea
The more inspiring or compelling the idea, the more likely we are to get the plan laid and the work started as fast as possible. But, that’s a mistake. Even though you may be able to articulate a few crisp bullet points for a vision statement, with the team rallying around; you may not truly have a vision.
A vision is a picture that you see in your mind. Can you “see” your desired end-state in all it’s critical aspects?
A Clear Vision Creates Pull-Through
Why spend the time and effort to get your vision really clear? The answer is simple and intuitive. When you know exactly where you are and where you are going:
- Alternative pathways emerge—the clearer the future state, the more likely you are to see new or different strategies for reaching that end-state.
- A “tension” pulls you forward—you see opportunities along the way that you would have missed, take action faster, and draw on others who can be helpful.
- Your actions and results generate energy, cohesion, and confidence, not only among team members, but other stakeholders.
Language Creates the Illusion of Clarity
The biggest challenge to clarity is the language we use. Unfortunately, we must use language to express ourselves. However, when we need to “paint a picture” of the future, language is too often used as short-hand for what we think is clear. Are you clear when you say you want to:
- Be innovators in our field?
- Double our revenues by 2017?
- Be #1 in our top three markets?
Not clear enough to create a strong “pull” from the future. Of course, the first one seems very general. But, even a statement like doubling revenues is really only one aspect to that team’s vision. What is the team’s product mix, client profile/mix, profitability, value/reputation, etc.? Exploring different pictures that include all aspects sharpens our view.
Five Questions to Diagnose Your Vision
Take stock of your team’s vision with five questions:
- Have you isolated all the key aspects of your desired end-state?
- To what degree have you “looked into the future” and imagined alternative end-states?
- For each key aspect, have you “unpacked” what you mean by your words?
- Do you truly desire that end-state?
- To what degree do you believe you can and will achieve it?
When you have a crystal clear vision, you and any team member can tell the story about the future that you are striving to achieve. It’s an exciting, energizing experience.
Try creating that vision for a meeting or outcome you desire this week. Let me know what you find.