Planning Stage 2: Developing the Vision
The most effective way to set the future direction of your organization is to develop a shared vision of what the organization will be in the future, contrast it to the way the organization is now, and then to create a plan to close the gap between current state and future state—the strategic plan.
In our last post we described the first important step in the process, assessment of your organization’s present situation, culminating in a summary of your organization’s most important strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats or SWOTs. This is the point of departure for the creation of your strategic vision.
What is a Vision and Why Do You Need One?
A vision is a statement of an ideal state of being or existence in the future that is inspiring and empowering for your stakeholders. It creates the organizational context for planning the future. Your strategic objectives or strategic direction is derived from the vision. Why do you need a vision? There are several reasons:
- The visioning process is in is a team-based exercise which boosts team-spirit.
- The vision represents shared expression of the future desired by the members of your organization. It is an essential step in creating unity of purpose in all their endeavors.
- The vision makes it relatively easy to determine the strategic priorities for your organization, and to develop specific plans to realize the vision – “a vision without a plan is merely a dream.”
- Your vision creates the context for your objectives so that the relationship to your organization is clear. It is frequently the starting point to viewing the organization as a systematic whole rather than the sum of its parts like a flight of geese flying in formation.
Characteristics of a Good Vision
Your vision should meet the following tests:
- The vision should invite and inspire your people to make it a reality.
- It should be grounded in the reality of your organization’s current state.
- As a result of the above the vision should create some creative tension in your organization in going from the current state to the future state
- Your stakeholders must be able to see themselves or their interests represented in your vision.
In most cases the vision should be timeless, although it can be finite (3 to 5 years). The time frame is dependent on the type or organizations, public utilities might want to look at a 10-year time frame, while a new startup would consider a shorter time frame.
Other Types of Visions
Besides the strategic vision, there can be many varieties of application of the visioning process incorporated into your planning. For instance, you may visualize the ideal process or an ideal product strategy. Any business issue can be approached using the visioning process.
The Visioning Process
The process of visioning is fundamentally different from the analytic techniques we use to make sense out of the past or present. Visioning is a synthesis process and synthesis is more difficult than analysis. There are useful tools like the Affinity Diagram to help your organization in your visioning process.
Communicating the Vision
To be fully effective the vision must be bought into by everyone in your organization. An effective method for doing this is to share the vision in its rudimentary version with all members of your organization and to encourage additions to the preliminary version. This participative approach is always a positive experience and is greatly appreciated by members of your organization and best of all it encourages “buy-in.”
Creating a Vision Statement
Your vision is your organizations destination in the future. The vision should be driven by what is desirable rather than by what seems possible, because time and again, creative teams and individuals will figure out how to achieve the seemingly impossible if the vision is compelling enough.
The visioning process is a right brain activity because it synthesizes ideas for the future. This is one area of planning where intuition and instinct play important roles. Profound knowledge of the matter at hand is also important, therefore it is important that your team is composed of the knowledge required as well as creative “out of the box” thinkers.
Contact us for a complimentary Visioning Exercise and for more information on the Affinity Diagram.
Our next blog post will address establishing the breakthrough objectives that will help achieve your vision.
Quantum Associates, Inc., an independent process improvement consulting firm that helps organizations produce defect-free products and services with less human effort, less time, less space, less capital and at far less cost.