• Wendy Castleman

Do you lack vision?


When working with teams, I'm often struck by how tactical their work is and how small they seem to be thinking. When I ask what they are working on, they say the product name, or maybe even the feature they are designing. What tends not to happen is that the team starts by describing the vision that they are working towards.

Do you remember the story of JFK visiting NASA in the early sixties? He asked a janitor what he was doing. The janitor was cleaning the floor, but he stopped and told the president that he was helping to send a man to the moon. This story is wonderful because it shows how work can be laddered towards achieving a vision.


Does your organization have a clear vision of the future that you believe in? Does your team? Can you and every member of your team cite it and explain how the work they are doing helps you towards achieving your vision?

A vision is different from a mission. A mission is your company's purpose. It's WHY. A vision is the alternative future that you are working towards. These may be related, but generally a mission for a company doesn't change, though a vision might.

I have helped many teams to craft a vision that pulls them. It's usually a lot of discussion and imagination to create one. A good vision is ideally so aspirational that it seems nearly impossible, yet so concrete that you would know when you got there.

Here are a few classic vision examples:

- Put a man on the moon (NASA in the 1960s)

- Make photography as easy as using a pencil. (Kodak in the 1880s)

- 1000 songs in your pocket (Apple in the 1990s)

- Equality for Everyone (Human Rights Campaign)

- A Hunger-Free America (Feeding America)

- D4D in the DNA of Intuit (Intuit's D4D team in the 2008-2016 timeframe)

I've found that visions between 3-7 words are most memorable, though of course that is completely optional. Vision statements that are small paragraphs are generally not memorable and make it harder to align work towards achieving it.

In order to help teams craft the words of their vision, I created a tool that could be helpful. It can be used by simply filling it out, or by facilitating a discussion with the team for each stage along the way.

Every week, I'll share a new tool that I've found useful working with teams. Sign up for my mailing list to be kept apprised of my latest tools, classes and thinking.


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