Let's face it, most vision statements aren't very good. They're either too dull and uninspiring to induce much of a reaction, or they're a compilation of the latest fad words and corporate jargon that neither makes sense individually or collectively.
All of which is a shame given that a clear, concise, and compelling vision statement can have a powerful impact on your team, division, or organization. Specifically, a well-articulated and oft communicated vision will provide a north star for decision-making for your people, ensure alignment on where you're going and inspire your team to deliver quality work on an ongoing basis.
That said, here are five steps to building a clear and compelling vision for your team that excites and inspires.
1. Make your staff co-conspirators.
Rather than starting from the perspective that it has to be your vision, invite your team to be co-conspirators in its creation. Start by asking them these questions:
- What does our success look like for you?
- Why do you do what you do every day?
- If there were no barriers, what would you like to see your team achieve?
- If this was the only job you could have for the rest of your life, what would you want your legacy to be?
Have each person on your team share their responses and then look for some key themes or commonalities. The goal is to get everyone thinking about the possibilities of what your team could achieve.
2. Have your staff draft 2 or 3 statements.
With everyone now excited about what the future might look like, the next step is to have your team pull together two or three different draft statements as candidates for discussion.
Depending on the size of your team, you can either have them work collectively as a whole group or split them into smaller subgroups of three or four.
Have everyone share their draft statements and look for repeating words, phrases, or themes.
3. Wordsmith in isolation.
The third step is to take the draft statements and start to wordsmith them into one overarching statement. You are better to handle this in isolation as drafting a statement of any length in a group setting can be a laborious, if not frustrating, process.
Ensure to stay true to the sentiments of the draft statements but push for clarity at this stage.
4. Go back to the group for feedback.
Take your final version back to your team to get final perspectives and buy-in. The goal at this stage is for them to be comfortable with the overall statement, offer up one or two changes, but not necessarily to re-start the process.
5. Communicate ad nauseam.
Most leaders stop here. After the hard work of crafting a statement is done, they have an overinflated belief that their team will magically embody the vision.
In actual fact, here's where the real hard work starts. In order for your collective vision to stick you have to commit to a period of over-communication. For at least six months use every opportunity you have to re-iterate your vision; at the beginning of every meeting, at the end of your emails, when someone acts in accordance with your vision, when you're making decisions. It's not until you start to feel physically ill at the thought of repeating your vision one more time that your team is starting to get it.