Book: ZAG

Recommended Book: ZAG by Marty Neumeier

Vision and mission statements are usually created for the larger organization and are intended to be used as guiding markers for the entire entity. This is great but sometimes vision and mission statements don’t trickle down to the people doing the every-day work that gets the products out the door. If the workforce doesn’t have a mission statement that guides it individuals will make up their own. And this is where things go wrong.

Mary Neumeier’s method has been incredibly helpful in my work. Through its influence I’ve been able to get executives to participate and take responsibility for the work. It has also been helpful in moving the workforce to work as a unit.





Within the GetElemental™ Innovation Design Model you will find six discipline areas. From left to right, they are:

  • Task analysis
  • Circumstance analysis
  • Gamification analysis
  • Information architecture
  • Interaction design
  • Usability analysis

This book recommendation fits within the circumstance discipline column and under the vision & mission activity if you have the poster.

On Using This Method

I’ve added a vision and mission workshop to every project for years. Whether it’s a campaign like MTV’s 2011 Biggest Fan competition concept (now MegaFan) or PBS’s Extranet the goals are the same. Get executives to participate and agree on the vision and mission of the work to supply the workforce with a mission statement that guides them. Once everyone agrees on the direction and the workforce has a mission statement to guide them everyone starts working together and moving in the same direction. This is so because everything one does has to support the product mission statement which supports the product vision statement, which in turn supports the organization’s vision and mission statements. Simple.

Vision and mission statement tree.

Vision and mission statement tree.

You might say that vision and mission statements in an organization might look like a tree. The organization as a whole has its own vision and mission statements and each product is a branch with its own vision and mission statements.

The ZAG method uses the journalistic model of storytelling to answer the what, how, who, where, why, and when questions. This method gets us closer to innovation by creating an “only line” that answers what category your organization is in and how your organization is different. If you move further up the tree and you apply this method to your products you will have an innovative and competitive organization that makes innovative and competitive products.

Getting to the right vision and mission statement requires going back and forth within the what, how, who, where, and when context because it needs to make sense from every angle. It’ll take a bit of practice but it’s well worth the effort.

Circumstance analysts, the people concerned with understanding everything that affects your product, need to work with UX practitioners from start to finish. Once the circumstance analyst has agreed with the UX practitioner that an idea is feasible, the next step is to create a vision statement and mission statement that executives and the workforce can get behind. I recommend this method of generating vision and mission statements.

Send @getelementalux your favorite methods of generating vision and mission statements and we’ll add them here.