VMV is the HGH for Work Teams

If your group at work isn’t growing, isn’t performing or isn’t scoring, you need a shot of HGH for teams, what I call VMV, or, your Vision, Mission and Values . HGH stands for “Human Growth Hormone” and can only be obtained through a doctor’s prescription. According to wikipedia, Growth Hormone (GH), is

a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration in humans and other animals.

and is used to treat

children with growth disorders and adult hormone deficiency.

VMV is for teams what HGH is for the body. It stimulates, motivates, compels and unites.

Now, when I think of HGH I instantly flash to Sylvester Stallone and his, uh, preparation for the last (?) Rocky movie back in 2007 and his subsequent illegal drug bust down under at the Sydney Airport.. He was muscular and ripped for a man of any age much less a 60 year old. After admitting to using the illegal steroid he said that it was only to help his “recovery.” Duh.

I don’t even want to go there with this post. What I do want to look at though are the three key elements of vision, mission and values that must be in place for any team to get stronger and get the job done.

Teams Defined

Teams are, to paraphrase my favorite team-ologists Katzenback and Smith, a “small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach.” I love this definition and have talked about it for years.

To get a more basic, minimal, definition I just look at one word: goal.

For me this is the word that differentiates a group of people from a team. If you have a small group with complementary skills but NO goal then you have NO team. It’s that simple. If you have a direction, an objective, a defineable outcome, for your group of people then you have a team. Now, if that goal is shared, if it’s a common one, you have a shot at being a strong, high performing team.

What Keeps Teams From Growing

That lack of a common goal may be the most obvious reason for stagnant, no-growth teams but there are others. I’ve asked hundreds of managers, from both the private and public sector, what they think are the main roadblocks to developing a strong team and this is the list they give me:

  • No trust
  • Unhealthy conflicts
  • Low or no motivation and commitment
  • Unclear or no or conflicting goals
  • Poor communication
  • Poor or non-existent leadership
  • Too many people (or too few)
  • Lack of accountability
  • Ego and personality clashes

These are deficiencies in the team, they’re growth disorders, and need to be addressed or the team, at best, won’t grow. At worse, the team/company/corporation/organization could be finished. VMV is the prescription for these issues.

VMV as Rx’d


The first V stands for vision. The defining characteristic of a leader is vision and a definition of vision is “an alternative picture of the future.” Vision is something that is not yet but can be. It’s an imagined possibility. I’m not one for saying that all teams always need to have a leader but when these problems are present it sure helps to have a good one.

The bible says that

Without vision people perish.

The flip-flop is that with vision your people have a chance to flourish. Leaders need to paint compeling pictures of the future ALL THE TIME. I heard someone say recently that “vision leaks” and needs to be re-filled constantly. Compeling visions move and inspire. If you’re the leader and can’t find something that is inspirational for your team please hand the reigns over to someone else.


M stands for mission and this has to do with the primary purpose of the team. Why are we here? Why do we exist? Mission answers these questions clearly and powerfully. Here are some examples I like

  • YouTube: YouTube’s mission is to provide fast and easy video access and the ability to share videos frequently
  • Google: Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
  • Amazon: Amazon’s vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. (This is kind of a combination vision/mission.)
  • Disney: To make people happy.
  • McDonald’s: McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat.

All of these offer a clear sense of purpose for their team members and leaders and help to motivate with that clarity.


Values are core principles that guide and direct. Pinky Thompson from the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), says that

Our values steer our actions.

The guiding values of the PVS are
* Mālama: To care for
* Aloha: To love
* ‘Imi ‘Ike: To seek knowledge
* Lokomaika‘i: To share with each other
* Na‘au Pono: To nurture a deep sense of justice
* Olakino Maika‘i: To live healthy

When you know who you are you know what to do. Your decisions are based on convictions that are important to you, things that are priorities.


All three, the vision, mission and values, need to be in place for team growth and development to occur. When they’re missing or deficient poor performance is evident.

Do you think there are any other things that stop teams from growing, getting stronger and getting the job done?

What else do you think needs to be in place for teams to succeed?

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