Developing a Strategic Vision Statement
is an image of the future we aspire to create. A vision can also reflect
kind organization we intend to become in order to have hoped for impact.
The vision answers the question “If we could create the organization of
our dreams and have the impact we have always desired, what this look
would like in the Year 2013?”
vision focuses on what we intend to BE – our hoped for destination, not
the details of what we will be DOING in the Year 2013. It should also
indicate in what significant ways we would be different from what we are
critical strategic issues represent our effort to express the big
questions, choices and challenges facing the organization in the future,
the vision is our attempt to communicate the big answers to these big
a four step process for developing a strategic vision for your
Step 1 -- Silent Generation of Ideas
After defining what a vision statement is, each
member of the planning team is asked to complete this following task
alone and silently:
First, review the following information (this
information will have been gathered and analyzed previously):
Key factors - internal strengths & weaknesses,
external changes & trends, emerging needs & service expectations of
Critical strategic issues facing the organization
Next, develop a list of core elements or
components of a vision for the organization. Answer the question: “If we
could create the organization of our dreams and have the impact we have
always desired, what would this look like in the Year 2013?” Use the
questions below to stimulate your thinking:
What impact and
results do we want to be achieving with our services, programs and
activities in the Year 2013?
How many and what
kinds of people and groups will we be involving/serving and how?
What impact will we
have on the community, state, and region?
What will the
organization need to look like in ideal terms to deliver the results
and impact listed above?
How will the
organization act? What will its reputation be? What will success
look like for us?
What kinds of
partnerships, alliances and collaborations will we be part of?
features, characteristics and other qualities would the organization
What would be
really different about the organization and its impact in the
Now Dream! List the core vision elements that are most inspiring to you:
A Suggestion: At this point it will be more helpful to have short
phrases that respond to some of the questions above rather than several
sentences. Having said that, do what works for you. One more suggestion:
We know that the tough major barriers and obstacles facing us can
sometimes make it hard to dream. At the same time, we can be paralyzed
by "all the reasons why things can’t happen.” Leaders need to dream
about how things could and should be. So use this exercise to dream!
2 -- Share individual ideas
individuals have completed step 1 – silent generation of ideas – the
next step is to get all of the ideas out before the full group. One
method is to record all of the ideas on newsprint before the group.
Another method is to develop an affinity diagram. Here are the steps for
Distribute five or six 5 by 8 index cards and a felt tip marker to
to review their personal ideas for vision from step 1 above and select
the vision elements that are most inspiring and exciting to them.
the “most inspiring and exciting” elements one to each index card.
of the walls in the meeting room you are using, post “header cards”
corresponding to the 3-5 critical issues that are facing the
organization over the next several years. (Depending on the planning
process you are using, these issues will have been identified earlier.)
people to post their index cards under the appropriate header card. It
will look something like this:
3 – Identify points of common ground and divergence
After all of the index cards have been posted, review all of them
with the group, solicit questions for clarification, and identify the
points of agreement – the common ground – as well as point of
divergence. Try to resolve the points of divergence but focus most
attention on the common ground.
4 – Develop 1st draft vision statements
into small groups. Each group develops a 1-2 sentence statement vision
statement that captures the emerging sense of vision based on step 3.
Each group then reports out to the full group. Review the first drafts.
Come to consensus about the key elements of vision that are expressed.
Assign the task of preparing a second draft to a writing team. (See
sample vision statements for format examples.)
writing team will report back to the full planning group and revisions
can be made as needed.