Visioning: How to create a powerful team vision

Discover, express and focus on a future for your team that’s clear, positive, compelling. To do that, capture your team’s vision.

Visionary leadership is one of the top characteristics of great leaders.

A vision that works for you is one that’s honest, customer-focused, and inspires and empowers your group. It enables them to take action cohesively and creatively to make the vision come true, no matter what obstacles they find ahead.

A vision this powerful will be one that appeals to your team’s emotions, as well as their intellect.

When you think about creating the vision together, think of it as a way to “pre-experience” success, in detail. The final product of your visioning work is, in a way, a snapshot and preview of the future you are creating.

Here are ways you can capture or create your team’s powerful, positive action-inciting and guiding vision:

1. Create the time and space for it.

Your team needs time to relax and let their ideas flow. That requires time and space away from the pressures of the regular workday. Schedule the time in advance with your team.

Create an environment for the visioning work that’s free of interruptions and enables the team to think expansively, clearly, honestly, creatively.

Engage a good facilitator, if the support of someone experienced in managing group processes would help. The facilitator can also help you create the final vision product you’ll post.

If you’re working on your own, make sure you have the space to stretch out. That includes plenty of wall-space to post butcher paper or easels and flip charts on which the team can record their ideas.

2. Envision a compelling future.

Start by setting a target date by which you hope your vision will have become real. Perhaps that’s 5, 10 or more years away. Whatever it is, make it a specific date.

Next, imagine what you will have achieved, as a team, by this time. Imagine it in detail, as if you were living in, and enjoying the benefits of that future situation. “Be there now.”

Imagine what your customers, collaborators, and competitors are saying at this future time about your results and how you created them:

– When you imagine seeing and hearing their reactions to your results and the way you got there, what do you like?

– What do you want to change about what you imagine they are saying about you, your work, and how you achieved it?

Now, as you imagine being in this future, imagine how you feel about what you have achieved by this time:

– What do you like best?

– What do you want to add or change about the results you imagine, and how you created them?

3. Capture and sort the group’s input to create the shared vision.

Capture the group’s work on your vision in writing or graphics. That way they can see and share the experience of having their ideas emerge, and their shared vision coalesce, and ultimately be expressed in a compelling way.

There will be a lot of information you’re producing, and processing as you create the vision. Capture it as you work in some way that’s easy for you to stay true to the ideas being expressed, and yet find it easy to work with. You can use mindmaps, clustering techniques, or structured brainstorming exercises.

You can also create a graphic template ahead of time, using a visual metaphor to catch and organize the team’s ideas. For example, some teams use a visual metaphor of taking a journey together, mountain climbing, surfing, or building a city. There are also many others you can use for a graphic template, depending on what metaphors resonate best with your team.

A variety of useful tools are available in good facilitation books and resources. In addition, an effective facilitator will have her, or his, own visioning process and tools to suggest to you.

If you’d like my help with this, of course, let me know.

4. Refine and post the vision. Then follow up.

Take the visioning work you’ve done, and distill it, as a group.

Produce a simple final vision statement or a graphic of it.

Post the vision in a prominent place where your team works, or will somehow see it regularly. That may be a physical space, or if you have a virtual or dispersed team, post it on an online space you share.

You can also create an individual version of the shared vision that employees post at their desks, or on their computers. Some teams use these like worksheets so team members can keep their eye on the “big picture,” and capture their own notes, as the year unfolds.

Ultimately, your vision will turn out to be more powerful for your team than you – or they – might guess (Visions are always powerful, whether they’re positive or negative).

When you’re vision-led, you’ll find it easier to stay on track, and find your way back if you’re pulled off course for some reason.