A clear vision is essential for leading teams and changing organizational behavior.
As the proverb says, 
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Why Do You Need a Vision?

When employees who drive change share a clear vision of how to implement it, and the benefits that change can bring to the organization, life becomes much easier.  An effective and popular way to convey a vision is to create a vision statement. The vision statement can provide inspiration for daily operations and act as a compass for making strategic decisions.

Six Sigma ChangesAt their best, vision statements tell the organization where it is heading and keep it focused on getting there. When Microsoft set out to conquer the software world, their vision was, “A personal computer in every home running Microsoft software.”

This statement set the bounds for Microsoft’s ambition, and helped the company decide what it would and wouldn’t do to attain it.

When Habitat for Humanity promoted a vision of, “A world where everyone has a decent place to live,” it did the same thing.

A vision doesn’t have to encompass the entire organization. The vision can be applied on a smaller scale to help focus and motivate a Sigma team.

How to Create a Vision

Creating a shared vision of a Six Sigma project requires leadership, hard work and cooperation. There are five tools a team can use to achieve this common vision:

Key Phrase Exercise – This helps team members harmonize their individual perspectives into a collective vision. Team members share their ideas about why the team exists, assemble the ideas into a statement, test the statement with stakeholders (customers, vendors, and employees) and amend as needed.

Backward Imaging – This exercise helps team members see the future in advance. First, they are asked to imagine what the successful project will look like. Next, team members describe how the new process looks and feels when it is functional. Finally, the team compiles these diverse views of the future and creates a consensus of what the best solution will be.

Bull’s Eye Chart – Process improvement requires more than just a clear vision of the objective. Team members work together to identify the vision, mindset and behaviors employees need to display to help the change succeed. For example, if a home electronics retailer has the vision of increasing customer satisfaction, they need to identify the mindset that supports it – educating customers – and the behavior to carry out that mindset – taking time to answer customer questions.

More of / Less of Chart – Like backward imaging, this technique asks team members to look into the future and envision the successful project. The team then describes the process in terms of the behavior that successfully supports it. This behavior falls into one of two categories: the kind we need more of, or the kind we need less of.

Elevator Speech – This tool forces the team to condense their message of the need for change into a pitch that lasts no longer than two minutes. Explaining the benefits of a project in two minutes or less forces the team to see the final outcome in clear detail and ensures that everyone is presenting the same message. A successful elevator speech conveys critical project information:

  • What it’s about
  • Why it’s important
  • What success will look like
  • What the team needs from stakeholders
  • What commitments the project team has made

Instilling a common vision among different members of a team is not easy. Team members may use the same words to describe a project but have very different mental pictures of what the final product will be.

Applying these five tools helps create a shared project vision among team members. It also helps the team identify the behaviors they need to instill and gives them talking points to explain and promote the Six Sigma project.

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