team mission
August 7, 2018

Team Mission: a leader’s experience of why you need one

By Tony Boobier

Continuing our theme of leaders’ lessons learnt from experience, lets turn to having a team mission.

In this post our regular guest blogger, Tony Boobier, shares one of his most important lessons learnt. This complements our previous posts on personal goal setting and which goals might be suitable for insight leaders.

Here, Tony turns his attention to the team as a whole. How can a mission be created that is central to everyone’s thinking? How can a leader manage that mission, with effective prioritisation & communication?

Following on from my own musings on protecting technical staff, I’m grateful to Tony for sharing his lesson learnt. Here he is.

Lessons learnt: it’s what you do with it that counts

I suppose that over the course of a few decades I’ve learned a few things but I wanted to share one which, for me, was perhaps one of the most important.

But first, let me take a step back. We are looking at this topic from the viewpoint of managing technically specialist teams. So, it’s important to recognise that effective management of data and analytics isn’t the destination. It’s what you do with the insight that counts. How you change best practices, or the ‘go to market’ strategy, or a hundred other things.

It’s not a question of creating insight, and then wondering what to do with it. I think it’s more fundamental than that. We have to ask ourselves ‘why’ we need that extra insight, and how will it improve our bargaining / competitive position? This approach might also influence where we start with data cleansing or organisation. By focussing on the information that matters, we can avoid waiting to fix the whole ‘reservoir’ of information.

Team Mission: providing direction and focus

And to do this requires the whole team to have an ‘Objective’, whatever it may be, not only in their sights, but at the centre of their thinking. Put another way, in strategic terms, The ‘Objective’ becomes ‘The Mission’ of the whole team.

If they have a ‘Mission’, then they have:

‘The Mission’, ideally, needs to align to the strategy of the wider organisation. As Paul proposed in his post on developing a Customer Insight Strategy.

Team Mission: so your team can challenge you

From time to time, even as a leader, you might make bad judgement calls which the team inevitably react to. Having a clear ‘Mission’ provides a framework. That enables your team to effectively respond to human weakness, even at the leadership level. That will sometimes mean rightly challenging you.

You’ll have to accept the possibility that your team will probably know more about the technologies than you ever will. The role of the ‘leader’ is to channel those efforts in such a way as to create the greatest success. Isn’t ‘Success’ perhaps no more than strategically out playing your competitors?

As a leader, your job becomes that of ‘Managing the Mission’.

Team Mission: you need to be managing the mission

Managing the Mission is all about clarity of outcome, vision, and effective communication. All these three are inter-twined, but of these, I think effective communication is one of the most important.

Through this approach my team were able to deliver £100m+ savings. Those were also coupled with significant customer service improvements.

Previous blogs have referred to influential writers. For me, the stand out book on this topic is The Grand Strategist’ by Mike Davison. It is both readable, charming and made a big difference to my approach when I read it over 20 years ago. Many of the ideas mentioned above are covered in that book. But, as in cooking, it is not the recipe but the baking (or implementation) which makes the difference.

Team Mission: what have you learnt about this?

Thanks again to Tony for more useful ‘food for thought’. Another book recommendation too was an unexpected bonus.

I hope you found that useful. If so, please do share your own experience with setting and managing team missions. Has that approached worked for you? Any other tips worth sharing?

More tips from leaders’ experience to come, together with our new series of audio interviews with senior leaders. If there’s someone you’d like to hear interviewed by Customer Insight Leader blog, please let me know.