Now we know what a vision is, why it is important and how it compliments a mission statement. So how do you create a vision? This has been a big question for me over the years. To be honest, I’ve struggled with this. There isn’t a lot of guidance explaining how to do it and it seemed like I should just know. As though every leader was born with the innate ability to do this. Well, like most things, this is a skill that can be learned by anybody.
Who is the vision for?
When my client asked about this, I decided to go back to basic principles. We started with an important question. Who is the vision for? This is key. If you don’t know who it will serve, your chances of creating a meaningful vision are very low. My client is the CEO and their role is to declare a future for the organization that connects to the cares of the people it is serving. This could be a broad range of groups.
In this case, my client runs a non-for-profit serving the homeless community. Who are they serving?
- People who are unhoused and missing connection
- Local government who support the organization
- Sponsors, typically companies who provide funding to advance their community goals
- Agencies tasked with reducing homelessness
- The board of the organization
- Employees and volunteers of the organization
As you can see from this example, it can be a broad list. Do each of these groups have a say in the vision of the organization? Not directly, but the vision should connect to what these people feel is important. These are often described as their cares in the world.
Involving your team to create a vision
A mistake I used to make is to ask these groups to tell me what vision they wanted. This is a mistake because it is not their job, nor should they know. The vision you choose needs to connect to what they care about so they engage with it. To do this, you need to uncover their most important cares and this requires a lot of conversations. This is where your team comes in. You aren’t going to head off into the mountains seeking divine visionary intervention. You and your team members are going to interview members of the groups you are serving to uncover their cares. These are the ingredients your vision will emerge from.
In the next article, I’ll describe how to have this conversation including some of the key questions to uncover their cares. For now, take some time with your team to identify which groups your organization is serving. Who will you meet with to get a good grasp of that group’s cares? Which groups are most and least important?
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