Key Success Factor 2: Shared Vision/Approach *
The mission, vision and guiding principles of the enterprise provide a top level vision of the acquisition objectives and identify IPTs as playing a role in implementing that vision. Since IPTs operate throughout the larger acquisition system and are usually given a specific objective/ product to produce, their vision should support the enterprise vision.
The importance of each IPT having a clear and shared vision of what it wants to accomplish may not be fully appreciated. It would seem obvious that every team would know what it is tasked to do. For simple, short-term tasks this may be true, but for larger programs, long-term development cycles, and complex requirements, it becomes more difficult to get all team members, and others in the enterprise, to have a common understanding and picture of the end product. As people move in and out of jobs in the enterprise, and requirements get modified or team members get involved in their individual responsibilities, they drift apart and lose sight of the larger vision.
For these reasons, it is essential that when an IPT is formed one of the early actions of the team is to understand why the team was created and carefully craft a picture of the end product that would accurately represent success. This vision needs to be understood and shared by every member of the IPT. Some authors of strategic planning books feel that the sharing of the vision is as important as the vision itself.
As the team goes through the process of developing and analyzing its vision, team members become aware of their different views and priorities, and begin to respect and listen to each other. The visioning process builds teamwork along with the vision. Once all team members see the same vision, they have a cornerstone for efficient communication and an agreed-to beacon to guide their discussion and actions.
This vision will surely change with time; it can be reviewed and updated periodically to keep it in line with customer needs. It helps if the vision is in writing, although it may be only a few pages. If it is too conceptual, no one will use it because it doesn't help them to make decisions or take action. If it is too detailed, no one will use it because it may restrict their actions, or become overtaken by events. The important thing is for the team to clearly understand and take ownership for its task, product, goals and objectives. An IPT can become a source of inefficiency if team members are working to different ends. The focusing effect of a good vision keeps everyone moving in the same direction with minimum friction and waste.
Once the vision, or some equivalent, is established, the team needs to decide what approach it will take to achieving that vision. How closely will it work together? What relations will it establish with other teams? How should it deal with outsiders, key stakeholders, or team mistakes? Will it use open book management, partnering, Total Quality Management (TQM), and Business Process Reengineering (BPR)? Bringing up the question of approach allows the team to identify and deal with a large number of potential problems before they come up. It also highlights major values, expectations, roles, and relationships before the team becomes immersed in the day-to-day work.
What approach the team decides to take can be discussed and debated more easily in the early period of team start-up when pressures are less. The outcome of an agreed-to approach may take the form of oral agreement or written agreement. In either case, it provides a way for the team to meet its vision and an agreement by team members to use a particular approach. Katzenbach and Smith (1993) felt so strongly about the importance of shared vision (purpose) and approach that they are included in their definition of a team:
A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.
Senge (1990) calls out a shared vision as being one of the five disciplines for a learning organization.
Two fundamental questions are addressed by this success factor. Where are we going and how will we get there? If team members can reach agreement on the answer to these questions they are well on their way to success.
Seeking answers to these questions has a side benefit. One of the biggest barriers to communication is that each team member sees the world from their own unique perspective. In developing a shared vision and approach, team members are bringing their individual assumptions, beliefs, mental models, and language into congruence.
A shared vision is the foundation for building trust, dependency, and collaboration—the beginnings of true teamwork and high performance. Other success factors such as team leadership, feedback, enterprise partnering, and collaboration interact with and can reinforce the payoff from a shared vision/approach.
* Navy IPT Learning Campus, Version 1.1.