You need a vision for your organization. Not some marketing jingle for your clients and stakeholders but a clear and meaningful view of where you want your organization to go. A view that might be informed by your manager and clients, but not driven by them. When I ask middle and first level managers why they don’t have a vision for their organizations, they tell me: a company can only have one vision, we align with the corporate vision, visions aren’t important, or nobody cares about vision. They are totally missing out on what a well-constructed vision statement can do for their organization’s performance.
Why you need a vision
A vision creates clarity. Building a vision clarifies, and more importantly, coalesces, the team members’ expectations of their collective future. The goal of building a vision is similar to that of documenting a process or a standard. Everyone thinks they are on the same page until they actually try to put it on paper. Then they begin to understand how different their viewpoints really are. The process of building a vision helps the team understand and resolve basic differences about their mission beyond their stated charter.
A vision encourages the team to grow. This is the team version of having a career goal. Without a personal career goal you don’t have anything to focus your learning efforts so you work toward getting better and better at doing the same thing. Eventually people see you simply as an extension of your role with the ability to do little else. Do this for very long and your career opportunities become severely limited. Teams without a vision and growth agenda die when their function is no longer needed. Teams with a vision have a future target that focuses their learning and growth in new areas making them more valuable to their company. There is plenty of data that supports the idea that people who have a clear vision for their lives are more successful than those who don’t. The same is true for teams.
Strong visions create strong teams. A vision directs team strategies. Strategies are the pathways to the future. Without a cohesive team vision, everyone takes a different path. As strategists and architects we create a future state for our companies and build strategies to get there. Those strategies align the organization’s resources. It’s the same principle. When everyone is pulling in the same direction the team becomes more than the sum of its parts.
A powerful vision creates excitement and energy. When the team coalesces on a vision they get excited. Well ok, maybe not everyone gets excited. Some people might not like this particular vision, they want a different path. If the vision is powerful enough these people will self-select out and while you might not appreciate it at the moment – this is a good thing.