What is our Team on Earth for?
Defining the Team Mission
For a longer period of time I had noticed that one of my teams had trouble finding and keeping focus. When I asked different team members what our mission was, I would get different answers. So I decided to do a ‘WHY’ session with my team, with the aim to clarify our team mission. If you would like to do this session with your own team, you can find the link to the template below this article.
I asked the team three questions:
- WHY does our team exist? (With other words: what is our team mission?)
- How do we practically contribute to this ‘WHY’?
- How do we measure if we’re on the right track?
And with the right track I meant: how (measurably) successful we are in living up to our WHY?
1. WHY does our team exist?
The first step was all about zooming out and looking for the bigger picture as a team. How do we contribute to the company’s mission? Who are our customers? What value are we bringing?
Even though much was stating the obvious, there were differences in emphasis. For example, some team members found it more important to create new products, others to support customers.
2. How do we contribute to this ‘WHY’?
Secondly I asked the team to write down all the different kinds of work the team does, and determine if all the activities contribute to the ‘WHY’.
3. How do we measure if we’re on the right track?
Thirdly we looked into what makes the team successful. We tried to make this as measurable as possible. For example: customer satifcation, deliver working software on time. Things that specifically contribute to our WHY and that we can measure.
After these three steps there were so many post-its, that we had to categorize them. We did it like this.
You could also use Min Specs Liberating Structure to identify and find agreement on the most important elements, like this:
‘Start with Why’ circle
After discussing everyone’s input, there was consensus on our ‘WHY’, contribution, and our indicators of success. But we still needed it sharpened up a bit.
So in the next session I drew a circle, much alike Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’ circle, and I asked the team to start with filling in the heart of the circle, the WHY. They used the post-its from the previous session to fill in the circle. This exercise helped the team to sharpen the formulation of the team mission. Especially when it came to the second and third part, about contributing to this WHY and indicators to measuring our success in living up to our WHY.
We ended up having a razor sharp formulation of what our team is here on earth for. It helped the team reflect on our mission, get on the same page, find focus, and team up even more.
If you would like to do this session with your own team, you can use the ‘What is our Team on Earth for? template on Mural.