How to find a vision for your team

vision_road

What is a team vision

A vision is a long term goal – a declaration of the team’s future.

During one of the last retrospectives in our team I was quite excited about the possibility to form a team vision.

Basically a well formulated sentence which would then be hung up in our team room – visible for all internals and externals to drop by.

Why is it important

The team vision should serve as common ground for our day to day work, help with decisions to make and also differ us from other teams respective their doings and paths to follow.

So far to my optimistic theory.

How does it work

The method I tried to apply to form a team vision was like this: In the beginning, the whole team was asked to answer the question:

Why is a team vision important for us?

That should serve for some basic common ideas and get everyone to speed up for the next part.
It worked pretty well and the team came up rapidly with statements like ‘Motivation’, ‘Focus’, ‘Group Identity’, ’Solidarity’, ‘code of behaviour’.

In the next part, the team was asked to form a team vision statement – a statement in which they believe and which they support and also vice versa.
It should follow this pattern:

For (target organization)
Who (statement of the need or opportunity)
The (team name) is a (team classification, category)
That (team singularity, compelling reason for the team existence).

Unlike (current alternative without the team)
Our team (statement of primary differentation).

vision_statement_template

This turned out to be much harder than expected and I tell you why:

Not that the team did not believe in their strengths and abilities – much more the fact that it was nearly impossible to look at the company’s vision and extract a meaningful vision statement for the team blocked all from coming up with something round and smooth.

The team was forced to come up with something to fit in this predefined pattern – a template that was just not the correct one to apply.
Before things got more and more complicated and artificial we decided to not make up something that is not suitable for the team and – in the end even worse – makes them uncomfortable when talking about it.

As you can imagine, this felt quite like a failed approach for me as Scrum Master of the team. However, having let this experience sinked in for a while, it was the correct consequence chosen by the team.

What if something had been published that would serve as a burden rather than something motivational for everyone?
The team gets along as a team quite well – each one supports the others when stuck, we have some rituals and some truly common ground we base our work on.
The vision remains unspoken for now – still it is felt day to day when working in the team. Maybe it needs just some more time before a vision itself is “ready to release” – and therefore visual for everyone.

Why did it fail

What I learned from this experience is that trying to push something like a team vision (statement) is not easy at all.
The reason behind it needs to be explained very well and detailed first. And even then you have to nail the critical slot for the right timing.
This means that – instead of pushing something adHoc – it can be easily released during a coffee talk or team event just at the right point of time – and then feel right.
When the time is right. Stay patient. Inspect and adapt 😉

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