If you don’t have a clear team vision, you need to involve team members in creating one. Imagine taking a few people and saying, “Okay, I’ll give you each \$1,000 if you put this thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle together.”

They say, “Okay, no problem.”

You then dump the pieces out on a table in front of them, and say, “You’ve got to put this puzzle together in two hours.”

They look at each other and say, “No problem.”

You then take the box top with the picture on it with you as you walk away, saying, “It’s all yours. Good luck in putting it together.”

Have you ever tried to put a jigsaw puzzle together without the box top? It’s not easy. But suppose that somehow, your great team pulls it off. When you come back two hours later, they have the puzzle solved.

And so you say, “I knew you were really good. Now I have a new challenge for you a bigger puzzle.

This time you dump three-thousand-piece jigsaw puzzles on the table, and say, “This one is three times bigger than the last one. Do you think you can do it?”

Your team nods, “Sure, if you leave us the box with the picture on it.”

So you put one box with a picture in front of them. But then you call each person out individually and show them a similar but different box top. You leave them saying, “You’ve got six hours on this one. Good luck.”

Now, when you come back, you find that your team members are trying to choke each other and beat each other up. They are yelling, “That’s not right, you idiot. Can’t you see?”

Sometimes we do the same thing with our team and family members. Everybody has a similar but different picture or vision.

You might say, “The closer we can come to sharing the same vision, the better off we are. So let’s put our heads together and get clear on what we’re building here so that everybody can get behind it.”

Once you focus on a team vision, it becomes your team affirmation. It clearly defines, “This is what we’re building. This is what we’re all about. We can use everybody’s energy to achieve the goal.”

Creating a team vision is like creating your own vision, except there’s more of you. You need to come to agreement. You talk about what this team, nation, church, family, department, or company is all about. The vision is a blend of diverse wants and desires.

When I was coaching football in high school, our team vision was to be the best in the state, to be undefeated. But we had several players who were playing for other reasons. They didn’t really care about being the best in the state or going undefeated. Some were playing to impress their girlfriends. Others were playing to get their pictures in the local paper. Some were playing to get a scholarship to college. Others just wanted to play for the fun of it. Everybody had his own reasons for playing.

Admittedly, as the coach, I also had my “other” reasons. I wanted to make a living. I wanted to be successful. I wanted to gain respect. There is never just one reason why people work as a team.

I was always trying to figure out what I could say or do to inspire these kids. One day I thought, “I’m coaching at Kennedy High School, a Catholic high school. If I talk to them about playing for God, I can’t get any higher motive than that.”

So, I talked to my players about going out and beating those heathen schools. “We are on a crusade,” I would say.

Well, that didn’t even wake them up. They didn’t care about playing for God. So I started talking about playing for the school. Their response: “Who cares about the school?” And so I talked about playing for the coach. That almost made them throw up. They weren’t motivated by my reasons. I couldn’t get them to play for God, the school, or me. So one day I just asked them, “What are you guys playing for?”

They came up with some of the worst reasons the picture in the paper, the girlfriend, the scholarship, the fun. I said, “You must have higher reasons than that.” They didn’t. So I said, “Okay, will you impress your girlfriend even more if we win? Will your picture in the paper look better if you’re scoring a touchdown? Will your chances of getting a scholarship improve if you make a contribution that wins a game?” They finally got the message. Our vision was to win and win we did.

The reasons why people are playing on your team are diverse. But you can align your reasons if you have the attitude, “I need you, and you need me, and we all need each other to achieve the goals and ends that we want.” By creating the vision, agreeing on it, and committing to it, you will get out of life what you want and I’ll get out of it what I want. We both win. Our vision is to win, and we describe what that win looks like, and how many wins we want.

Here at The Pacific Institute, we have a vision: To help people enhance the quality of their lives so that they can then improve their families, their community, their organizations. Some people choose to work with corrections, some with military, education, health care, and so on. We have different areas of emphasis, but we’re all aligned behind our overall vision. And we know that it takes us all, working together in harmony, to achieve our goals.

In like manner, you can work on a vision with your team or family. What is the purpose for your family? Why are you bonded together? For emotional support, for care and feeding, for financial support, for health? Create a wonderful motto or picture or vision or mission with which every member of the family can identify, and then get aligned in moving in that direction.

Otherwise you have an organization of individuals who, like cats, head off in their own direction. You can have a family with a father going one way, a mother going another way, a child going this way, and a child going that way. You still have a family, but it’s dysfunctional.

You can have a functional, happy family and team spirit when you get synergy and alignment behind a shared vision, mission, and goal. One image, one goal. Otherwise, there’s little purpose for being a family, or having a company.

Who creates the team vision? The leader may have the vision, but every member needs to buy into it. Otherwise, you get second hand values, second-hand morality, and second-hand goals. With second-hand values, your children might behave exactly as you wish them to behave in your presence, but the moment you leave town, things change fast. They go back to living their values and their life in their style.

Likewise, some folks in your company might profess the same mission or goal and say and do the right things around the boss, but in the bathroom or over a drink, they talk about what they really mean. You might as well get
everybody together and invite those who have a different vision and mission and who choose not to be there to go
and do their thing some other place. If you’re not all working on a “want to” and “choose to” basis on the same goal,
you won’t have the energy and synergy you need to get from where you are now to where you want to go as a group.