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Developing a Strategic Vision Statement

A vision 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?”

The 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 today.

If the 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 questions.

Here is a four step process for developing a strategic vision for your organization:

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:


Your Task:


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 our constituents.

  • 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?

  • What distinctive features, characteristics and other qualities would the organization possess?”

  • What would be really different about the organization and its impact in the future?

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!

Step 2 -- Share individual ideas

After 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 this approach:

Distribute five or six 5 by 8 index cards and a felt tip marker to everyone.

Ask this to review their personal ideas for vision from step 1 above and select the vision elements that are most inspiring and exciting to them.

Transfer the “most inspiring and exciting” elements one to each index card.

On one 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.)

Then ask people to post their index cards under the appropriate header card. It will look something like this:

Step 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.

Step 4 – Develop 1st draft vision statements

Break 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.)

The writing team will report back to the full planning group and revisions can be made as needed.

"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all." Peter F. Drucker  View Past Quotes

frank@createthefuture.com susan@createthefuture.com

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Revised: June 20, 2016