I had the honor and privilege of working with two organizations last week as they built their vision of their preferred future. It never ceases to amaze me of the power of the Team in this work.
Recently, our community of Alexandria, MN also witnessed the power of the Team when 25 people (Administration, Staff, Community, Students) came together over many months to build their vision for the future of education in their School District 206. The summation of their 50 pages of documented vision was:
“School District 206 has a vision to move from excellent to exceptional with an intense focus on individualized learning plans to serve each student. This would be done with instructional methods and technologies that are relevant to each student’s learning preferences, and by harnessing the instructional and assistive capacity of our engaged Alexandria community.”
The net result of that vision is an extremely unique learning model and a world-class high school facility that was recently written up in the national publication Fast Company. Those people that were involved in this process would all say that this vision would not have happened without the collective ideas, and efforts of the team.
Key steps in building your organization’s vision:
- Take the team away from their normal environment – Getting away allows people to fully focus on creating the vision and connect with their inner thoughts, as well as God’s purpose and calling for their organization.
- Build off the Purpose and Values – A vision should always emulate from the purpose and values of the organization.
- Determine the key areas of responsibility – This will focus the visioning process to make it easier to frame the desired future. Examples within an organization might be: Culture, sales, service, marketing, operations, R&D, people, and leadership.
- Start by allowing each individual to share their personal vision of the organization – It is extremely valuable to first listen to each member share their vision. This gets a lot of ideas out on the table for mutual consideration by the team.
- Collaborate together on the Vision – Come to consensus on the ideal future you would like to create over the next few years in each key area of responsibiity.
- Document the vision in writing – Casting the vision in writing allows you to more accurately share it and maintain focus as you work towards making it a reality.
Distinct advantages of building vision as a team:
- A high quality vision of the future – I have never worked with a team that hasn’t stepped back after the process without being totally impressed at the quality and completeness of their vision. This process brings out the best in the team.
- A high level of enthusiasm and passion for the organization – The process of defining your preferred future builds passion and excitement for the work ahead.
- Empowerment and engagement – Once people have been involved in building the vision, they feel a sense of ownership and can’t wait to get intimately involved in making it a reality.
- Clear direction, focus, and commitment – People that have been involved in setting the vision step into commitment and accountability to insure it comes to fruition. Shared responsibility goes to another level. It also clears the fog on what everyone should be working on.
- Team Building – Teams always come out of this process stronger. Connections are built to another level when working on what you want to collectively create in the future. There is a true sense of “We are in this together!”
- Renewed Sense of Purpose – Teams that work collectively and participate in a well-structured process for creating a shared vision emerge with a sense of purpose that goes much deeper than the vision document they craft will ever be able to say.
Servant leaders know and understand that Building the Foundation (Purpose, Vision, and Values) is where leadership begins. I encourage you to take the time to get away and Build your organization’s / team’s / family’s vision of a preferred future! It is the only way to ensure you get to where you want to go.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3
Just this morning I was thinking about vision and how often I’ve attended a series of meetings where vision was discussed but there was no clarity going in and blurry vision coming out. It is a skilled leader who is laser focused and able to articulate so clearly to the leadership team that the message is conveyed in the short term while building the infrastructure to support future objectives. The vision is clear if you ask, “Can you see what I see?” and the answer is, “Yes!”
Thanks so much for weighing in on this most important subject Jane! Shared vision is so powerful, and as you say, true servant leaders understand that insuring clarity is important to making it become a future reality.