Many organizations glaze over their Vision statement. They see it as a waste of precious time, a puff piece of nonsense that dissolves upon contact with harshness of reality. They would rather use their time to run day to day operations: too busy being busy.
However, establishing, or reaffirming, your organizational vision is a crucial step in the strategic planning process (Read: How to write an impactful Vision statement here). When we facilitate a strategic planning process, we typically allocate 30-40 minutes to explore, affirm or develop the Vision statement. This sets the scene for the rest of the strategic plan facilitation, as people are focused on creating the future rather than focusing on what did not get done last year.
What is a Vision statement?
Understanding the reason you exist as an entity, the difference you want to make in the community (regardless of how you will go about doing it), should be distilled in your Vision statement. This can be achieved in a few words rather than a long tortuous, wordsmithed paragraph developed so that everyone has their pet word included.
The key intents of your Vision and its implications should be apparent to every member of your organization after it is developed by your planning team (Read: How to select your planning team). It should guide the work you do, and inspire all tiers of your staff and your clients/ customers through overt examples of living the Vision.
Using your Vision as decision making criteria
Once you have finalized a vision statement you believe captures the essence of what your organization hopes to create as a future with its community, then it can be embedded into the work you do. Using your Vision as a strategic filter is a step almost no organization takes.
View the video for a detailed discussion of how this all works.
Any project or proposal that comes to the board of directors should address each element of your vision statement and scrutinized to unlock its potential for innovation.
The process can look something like this:
Let's take Housing Plus as an example.
Their Vision is for: Safe, healthy and connected communities.
The core intents of the vision populate the far left column.
Then, selecting any project which may be ongoing (it is unstated in this example), and see how the intents of the Vision statement would relate to this project. Then ask yourself the following questions for each Vision intent:
This will immediately begin to encourage your leadership team to think deeply about the project, its relevance and ways it could be strategically expanded.
Then, working within the next two columns, ask yourself what else could we be doing to create safe, healthy, connected, communities? What else haven't we thought of? Literally analyze your project through the filters of your Vision.
Next, ask yourself Who else? Who else is interested in safety, or being safe? Who can we align ourselves, or work with to create greater safety?
Use this methodology for all key Vision intents.
If you follow this process, you may then have a discussion about how this particular project can generate revenue. Connect the dots between each of the columns: what else could we be doing, with which partnership to create revenue in novel ways?
If you start to use this methodology, your organization can not help but be driven by its vision.
Your capacity for innovation, in service delivery or product development will skyrocket as a result.
How else can a Vision statement be used? Leave your comments below.