A Purpose Critical Team

It is generally assumed that a work team is clear as to its purpose. "Of course our team knows what it supposed to do," team members may proclaim, while at the same time admitting that team members are performing their tasks from differing perspectives and habit patterns. Although individual diversity among team members is an asset for a work team, having each team member pulling in a slightly different directions is a potential curse.

One means of assuring unity in team values and viewpoints is to hold an annual meeting to review, rewrite, and refresh team vision and mission statements to describe the current and future purpose and focus of the team. Conference events which incorporate team building activities will help all team members follow one team vision and mission statement.

A team vision statement will:

  • Consist of 2-3 paragraphs describing desired team outcomes that are to occur approximately a decade into the future
  • States the destination of the team in a manner that inspires commitment
  • Expresses the ideal team future
  • Is bathed in organizational mission, goals and philosophies
  • Make the teams values explicit

A team mission statement will:

  • Consist of 3-5 sentences telling what the team does, who they do it to, how they do it, and why they do it
  • Uses language that connotes a dedication to the team's values
  • Is a clear and concise description of the team's "reason for being"
  • Is able to be fully accomplished within the next 3-5 years

The entire team needs to be involved as a group in writing or revising the team vision and mission statements because often the discussion involved in producing the documents is more immediately useful to the team than the documents themselves. Once the statements are produced they should be posted in public areas within the team's workspace as well as in each team member's individual workspace as a constant reminder of the team's purpose.


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