It’s become conventional wisdom that in order to get people excited about the present, you should talk about the future. You should have a leadership vision of where you’re aspiring to go and communicate it clearly to all the stakeholders. Well, the conventional wisdom is true, but the practice is rare.
As important as vision is to us, the act of having and communicating vision is mysterious and even intimidating to most. But there’s really nothing mysterious about its value: The clearer and more inspiring the picture of our end goal is, the more committed we are in the work we’re doing today to make that vision a reality.
Your job, then, is to paint a clear and compelling picture of the end state of the project. Not to worry, though! There’s no crystal ball required for this. Vision isn’t about predicting the future, it’s about envisioning what you’re striving to create, then describing that end-state in vivid detail.
Here’s a simple process that you can do on your own or with your team:
Roll the clock forward and imagine that your project is complete, and that it was a phenomenal, earth-shattering success. Pretend it’s all been done, and then “remember” the following:
- Make a list of everything you accomplished as a team.
- Write down all the ways you and each of your team members gained personally from having worked on this project.
- Describe the legacy you’ve left behind, the reputation you’ve established individually and collectively, how your clients describe the impact you’ve had on them, etc.
Now, using those notes as a guide, come back to present day and write at least one paragraph to complete this statement: “At the end of our project, here’s what our success will look like…”
The conversations we’ve been discussing in this series of posts do require some time and energy (what great relationships don’t?), but they don’t have to be an all-consuming effort. Even if your team is working on a tight deadline, or if you’ll only be working together for a short period of time, your investment in these conversations will, I believe, ultimately save you time. But you’ll need to be smart about the platform you use to create the dialogue and share your perspectives.
More on that next time.