Just before, during, and after the holidays, with renewed energy, often we have time to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re heading. It is a great time to refine our vision, where we are heading in the future. And consequently, we can think about how we balance our day-to-day short term focus with that longer term vision, especially as we prepare to get back to the grind of delivering shows. Note that I use grind in a more sport-oriented sense, in that it is a good thing to think of short term frequent deliverables to improve our game. We want consistent, leveled progress, preferring it over up and down swings. A grind increases daily focus, and continuous learning.
We can establish the what in our vision, by listing and refining where we are heading with a user/customer focus. Collaborate with the whole team to take advantage of that holiday energy renewal. Add some quantitative measurement, and keep it short, from 2 to 4 sentences, to give it punch. While refining, think of it like a lyric — its rhythm, it’s sound, it’s easy metaphoric meaning — and it can be motivational by merely repeating it out loud.
Listing out everything you want in the vision should be quite fast. The effort comes in refining it like a fine lyric, as mentioned above. Personally, I find in actual lyric editing in the midst of songwriting that it’s best to go with some gut thoughts at first writing them all down, and then sleep on it, refine and repeat. Don’t forget to record those brilliant thoughts you get in that morning shower right after awakening. So the refinement process could be scheduled over a couple of days, and enlist team members that are willing to grind on the refinement.
After refining what the vision is, we move onto the how, and this becomes an exercise in balance. Since a mission is often considered to be a statement of current purpose, while a vision is future looking, we might think of this as a balance of our mission and our vision. Another way to look at this is that the vision envelops the mission; it provides a guiding context for the mission and the roadmaps. In any case, in our daily grind we can think about how we might add tasks of continuous learning that balance our vision with our daily mission, which may be for example to put out the finest quality production work while delivering with consistent efficiency.
One of the ways to do this is to add specific vision related tasks, from brainstorming new workflow to improving technology in the pipeline. Schedule time for these sessions for each team, with the frequency dependent on amount of ambition in your vision. Once a week, every two weeks, or once a month. Perhaps split into categories and have separate meetings in each category once a month. Note that the energy these meetings typically provide more than offset the time taken away from immediate deliverables. In fact, the use of other parts of the brain may help with the problem solving activities that present themselves in the daily grind. It keeps the people happier and more fulfilled, and sparks collaboration in unanticipated ways.
Finally, share the team visions across departments to take these sparks into ignition of even brighter ideas through deeper collaboration. Fan those creative flames!