Last week we talked about leading yourself and designing your leadership vision. This week we will focus on leading your team starting with defining your organization’s vision and mission. A leadership vision is articulating what you want for your organization, your team, in the future.
One way to start defining your vision and mission is by looking at department goals and objectives. Both serve different purposes and are often confused with each other. While a mission statement describes what a company wants to do now, a vision statement outlines what a company wants to be in the future.
Start with Your Vision
Vision statements are always future state, what you aspire to be; your goal. I like to project 3-5 years into the future, and I typically align with the length of the strategic plan. Technology changes at such a rapid pace that it is rarely practical to project further than five years.
In my work with CIO’s, I often ask to help with the development of their IT Strategy. Vision and Mission are the foundation for any strategy endeavor. To write a strong vision statement, you should consider aligning the IT Vision to the organization’s objectives and vision.
What goals need to be achieved and in what time frame do they need to be delivered?
Prioritize, what is critical, what is not, and why.
How do I best explain why? This discussion leads to the heart of your department’s contribution to the organization. I like to start by answering the following questions:
- Why does our organization exist?
- How can we do things different or more effectively?
- What outcome or direction is necessary to reach our goals?
With those three questions answered, use the output as input into describing what success will look like once you achieve your objectives in the form of an easy to understand the aspirational statement.
I particularly appreciate Boston College’s Vision Statement for its simplicity:
Information Technology Services will be recognized as a high-performance team providing technology excellence that advances learning, teaching, research, and student formation in alignment with Boston College’s mission and goals.
This vision statement fills four key principles:
Alignment: Ensure that the IT organizational model and all related operational services and duties are correctly aligned and prepared to fulfill the business goals and objectives.
Engagement: Ensure that all IT “vision” stakeholders are on board and fully engaged in technology–related planning and the operational capabilities required to deliver the IT service portfolio.
Best Practices: Ensure that IT is designed to operate within standards, relying on effective management practices and strategies properly sized to meet technology needs and organizational capabilities.
Customer Service: Define the organizational vision to ensure that IT services are provided in a timely, high–quality manner and that they are entirely prepared to fill the operational needs of the end-users while working within the boundaries established by business interests and technology best practices.
This exercise encouraged me to evaluate ITeffectivity’s Vision. My vision is a work in progress, somewhat representative of the evolution of the practice itself. My current vision is:
“To influence leaders to respect and utilize the power of diversity and inclusivity to drive the best outcome.”
A little heady, but adequately epresentative of my personal values and wishes for society.
Now the hard part. Before you finalize your organization’s vision statement ask yourself – Are there gaps or conflicts against my personal vision? If your vision for your team is to engage and foster leading–edge technologies, but your organization’s goals do not support your vision – you will find yourself in unsustainable odds between your own and your team’s vision.
Is there something that you need to change? Is your vision creating the gap, or are there corporate realities you need to consider? More importantly, what can you live with? What is too much of a compromise? What might you be able to do about it? The conflict will only fester if not resolved within yourself.
Moving on to the Mission Statement
Once you are good with your vision statement, move on to your mission statement. A mission statement is a brief description of a company’s fundamental purpose. It answers the question, “Why does our business exist?” Mission statements focus on what you must do to achieve the vision. It is in the here and now.
Mission statements are as varied as the organizations they describe. All mission statements will “describe an organization’s present capabilities, customer focus, activities, and business makeup.” (Source: Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases by Fred David)
Boston College’s IT mission statement provides a great example:
Information Technology Services provides secure, reliable, and integrated technology solutions in alignment with academic and administrative goals while delivering excellence in customer service.
In support of this mission, we will:
- Partner with the University community to understand the information technology needs of faculty, staff, and students.
- Provide leadership and planning for the effective and strategic use of emerging technologies.
- Demonstrate technical and operational excellence through a commitment to professionalism and continuous improvement.
A mission statement is a brief description of a company or an organizations fundamental purpose. It answers the question, “Why do we exist as an entity?
The mission statement articulates the purpose both for those in the organization and for the public. It seems reasonable to follow through with sharing ITeffectivity’s mission statement as another example:
“ITeffectivity partners with IT leaders to deliver stakeholder requirements by enabling the capability and resourcefulness of the IT team members.”
This simple statement calls on the developing of the leadership skills of my client’s IT management team. A good leader is one who is always three steps ahead of the needs of the team. Most importantly, a leader looks after the need of the people before him or herself.
Why Having a Vision and Mission Statement Is Important?
Every IT organization should have a vision and mission statement, both as a way of ensuring that everyone in the organization is “on the same page” and to serve as a baseline for effective strategic planning.
As a bonus, creating a vision and mission statement definition as a team can be a priceless priceless team–building exercise.
To facilitate a strong team vision, ensure everyone understands the big picture – What does success look like for the company? It is essential to set the foundation that the team vision must directly support the company’s overall vision and strategy.
Engage each team member individually to spark their thinking of the possibilities for the team. Encourage them to define the characteristics of the team at their best. What would be different from today? Allow each individual to explore their thoughts on how they and the team would look and act differently. Most importantly, leave them to think about what it would take to get there.
Then, bring them together in a workshop format to share and explore the creation of your organization’s vision and mission.
Finally, come prepared to articulate what you will contribute as their leader.
We will continue our discussion next week by looking at values.
Until next week!
Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com – an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry.