Future: A vision is not in the present, it is in the future. (A vision is not where you are now, it's where you want to be in the future. The image of a leader gazing off into the distance to formulate a future is inspiring.)Realistic: A vision must be based in reality to be meaningful for an organization. (For example, if you're developing a vision for a computer software company thathas a 1.5 percent share of themarket, a vision to overtake Microsoft and dominate the software market is not realistic!)Credible: A vision must be believable to be relevant. (To whom must a vision be credible? Most importantly, to the employees or members of the organization. If the members of the organization do not find the vision credible, it will not be meaningful or serve a useful purpose. One of the purposes of a vision is to inspire those in the organization to achieve a level of excellence, and to provide purpose and direction for the work of those employees. A vision which is not credible will accomplish neither of these ends.)Attractive: It gives meaning to life: How will the world become a better place as a consequence of what my company does?”(If a vision is going to inspire and motivate those in the organization, it must be attractive. People must want to be part of this future that's envisioned for the organization.)
Learn everything you can about the organization. There is no substitute for a thorough understanding of the organization as a foundation for your vision.Bring the organization's major constituencies into the visioning process. Don't try to do it alone. If you're going to get others to buy into your vision, if it's going to be a wholly shared vision, involvement of at least the key people in the organization is essential. "Constituencies," refer to people both inside and outside the organization who can have a major impact on the organization, or who can be impacted by it. Another term to refer to constituencies is "stakeholders"- those who have a stake in the organization.Keep an open mind as you explore the options for a new vision. Don't be constrained in your thinking by the organization's current direction - it may be right, but it may not.
Understand the organization. To formulate a vision for an organization, you first must understand it. (What its mission and purpose are, what value it provides to society, what the character of the industry is, what institutional framework the organization operates in, what the organization's position is within that framework, what it takes for the organization to succeed, who the critical stakeholders are, both inside and outside the organization, and what their interests and expectations are.)2. Conduct a vision audit. This step involves assessing the current direction and momentum of the organization. (Key questions to be answered include: Does the organization have a clearly stated vision? What is the organization's current direction? Do the key leaders of the organization know where the organization is headed and agree on the direction? Do the organization's structures, processes, personnel, incentives, and information systems support the current direction?)3. Target the vision. This step involves starting to narrow in on a vision. (Key questions: What are the boundaries or constraints to the vision? What must the vision accomplish? What critical issues must be addressed in the vision?)4. Set the vision context. To craft that vision you first must think about what the organization's future environment might look like. (First, categorize future developments in the environment which might affect your vision. Second, list your expectations for the future in each category. Third, determine which of these expectations is most likely to occur. And fourth, assign a probability of occurrence to each expectation.)
5. Develop future scenarios. This step follows directly from the fourth step: combine those expectations into a few brief scenarios to include the range of possible futures you anticipate. 6. Generate alternative visions. Just as there are several alternative futures for the environment, there are several directions the organization might take in the future. 7. Choose the final vision. Here's the decision point where you select the best possible vision for your organization. (To do this, first look at the properties of a good vision, and what it takes for a vision to succeed, including consistency with the organization's culture and values. Next, compare the visions you've generated with the alternative scenarios, and determine which of the possible visions will apply to the broadest range of scenarios. The final vision should be the one which best meets the criteria of a good vision, is compatible with the organization's culture and values, and applies to a broad range of alternative scenarios (possible futures).
Encourage input from your colleagues and subordinates. Another injunction about not trying to do it alone: those down in the organization often know it best and have a wealth of untapped ideas. Talk with them!Understand and appreciate the existing vision. Provide continuity if possible, and don't throw out good ideas because you didn't originate them. In his book about visionary leadership, Nanus describes a seven-step process for formulating a vision:
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