Defining a vision gives your team something to aim for in the longer term — something beyond quarterly goals and outcomes. Here’s how to create one with your team…
I recently wrote about the importance of having a team purpose and how to define one for your team. Purpose is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to setting your product team up for success. Your team also needs something to aim for, a North Star.
What is a team vision?
A team vision is a longer term aim that looks out around 12 months ahead. It’s different from a company vision as it’s something a little more specific than a lofty 5–10 year goal. It should be something that can be achieved in around a year and details what you are going to achieve and for whom.
Why set a team vision?
Having a longer term view will help to give your team focus and ensure that you can formulate a strategy and themes to work on that will result in meaningful products being delivered to your customers and / or users. It also means that you don’t have to completely rethink what you’re working on every quarter, which means less disruption to good team work!
Facilitating a team vision workshop
Explain the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ (5 minutes)
In every workshop you will find participants who will be hesitant to take part unless they are told why they are there, what you will be doing and what the end result will be (and rightly so!). With this in mind, it’s beneficial to start any workshop with the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ to save time and head off these sorts of questions:
- What = working together to define a team vision
- Why = to have an agreed understanding of what our longer term aim is as a team
- How = a one hour workshop with the following agenda
Get your team in the right mind-frame (5 minutes)
Depending on the size of your business, you may already have a company vision and a relevant high level OKR or strategic goal that relates to your team. It’s worth spending 5 minutes reviewing these, if you have them. If you don’t then you can skip to the next step.
Ask questions to form the basis for your team vision (30 minutes)
Write answers, one per Post-It and then discuss and group similar ideas together.
- By working with us, our partners / customers will improve…?
- By choosing our product, our users will have the ability to…?
This is all about getting your team to think about the impact that your work will have on your customers’ / users’ lives in 12 months’ time. Remind your team that this isn’t about which features you deliver or what services you build, but something much more on a human level — how will their lives have changed? What will they be able to do that maybe they can’t do now?
- If we achieve the above, what will our customers / users be feeling?
This question is to get people thinking about the emotions that your customers or users will be feeling 12 months from now, if you’re successful in achieving the above. Will they be happy, stress-free or satisfied? Try to get your team to put themselves in your customers’ or users’ mindset.
Formulate your team vision statement (20 minutes)
Hopefully some themes have emerged from answering the questions in the last step and you should be able to have a time-boxed discussion about how to formulate your team vision statement:
You should end up with something that looks like this:
By <month, year>, our <customers / users> will be able to…
If you have a team of 10 or more people it might be better for your Product Manager to take the workshop outputs away and write up a draft vision statement for the team to feedback on, as a large group discussion can get rather unwieldy, in my experience at least.
Good luck with the workshops and let me know how you get on if you decide to run one!