A common mental model of success will help form a team, guide its efforts, and even in the absence of a plan, keep it on track as problems and gaps emerge.

Project Teaming Principle #3: Share the Vision. Build Models!

Project Teaming Principle #3: Share the Vision. Build Models!

In Project Action Principle #2 and also in Clause #2 of this Charter we established that customer value is the key to understanding the final project outcome.

In Project Action Principle #3, we described the principle of having shared models, so please refer to that document for more information about the definition, value of sharing and implementation of team models.

This clause ensures that all the team members acknowledge a responsibility to absorb, understand, validate and reinforce the common understanding of the customer value, and of other aspects of the performance that is required.

A team in which individual members are heading towards different goals is handicapped from the start: both as a team and the probability of achieving the required outcomes.

How do you create a team that is aligned towards the same goal?  “Where is the team going” and “How are we doing” are questions too frequently asked and superficially answered, and then all too often ignored.

“The greatest leaders mobilise others by coalescing people around a shared vision.” – KEN BLANCHARD (Leading at a Higher Level author and management expert)

Without a shared vision, the team has no goal; and without a goal, you’re screwed!

If I come into a project that is already established, the first thing I will look for is evidence of a shared vision and tangible artefacts (e.g. documents) that represent a common mental model of success.

I’m looking for evidence of such things like:

  • Whether the team is using the same language to describe what they are doing.
  • If I ask the individuals to describe the project and its goals, do they easily articulate this or are they grasping for words.
  • Common documents (such as project diagrams and outlines) are evident and being used.
  • Project-related materials are found on the walls of the cubicles or the common work areas of the team and its members.

If most of the evidence above is missing, then the team has not achieved a state of alignment.

“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.” – Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels)

Project teams frequently see this shared vision development as a one-off activity: something to be rushed into or simply completed at the beginning of the project and never touched again.  Therefore, the team leadership needs to somehow build shared vision activities into the daily/weekly/monthly cycles of the project. In Agile for example, perhaps it’s worth reviewing the shared vision at every sprint retrospectively.

Team Charter Clause #3: I will embrace and nurture the vision (dream)

The 3rd clause addresses the nature of aligning the mental models of the team.

I understand that the team must have a mutually-compatible and shared idea of its end goal.  I subscribe to the idea of my team’s “shared vision of success”.

I commit to establishing, protecting and nurturing a shared vision that is actionable and tangible in the minds my team-mates.

I understand that developing, validating and maintaining a shared vision is not a trivial exercise but is a critical enabler to the team’s effective and successful operation.  I will help my team-mates to validate that their understanding and mine are the same.

I will look for evidence each and every day that the shared vision is in use and that it drives all our activities on the project. I will seek out and surface dissonance in this shared vision and work to resolve that dissonance as rapidly as possible.

I will use this dissonance as a way to improve and shape the shared vision as it grows from our collective and growing knowledge and experience.

Next Steps

What are your thoughts on the objective of this clause? Do you have any suggestions for modifications to the wording?

What do you think your team’s reaction would be to this Charter if you introduced it to your current project(s)?

We’d love to read your comments, so please use the area below the article to provide feedback.

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