Nina Spencer

The Spirit of the Visioning Process

Organizations spend a lot of time developing vision and mission statements. Do they work? What exactly is the difference between them anyway?

Mission is the overall guiding direction of how an organization will work towards its vision. Vision is the articulated powerful and preferred "future state" image of where the organization wants to be.

The visioning process is most effective when derived from inspiration rather than manipulation. Employees become hypocritical and cynical about these statements when they feel manipulated and left out, but committed to making it work when they are inspired by being part of the process. Successful visioning ignites continuous development and learning in organizations.

The Benefits:

  • Unites employees around a common dream
  • Links the work of different departments
  • Creates a framework for decision making
  • Establishes the underpinning for planning
  • Examines the present business state
  • Identifies inconsistencies in business

An organization's start up energy and commitment is naturally high. Workplace morale and enthusiasm subside when the first blush of newness is over. Organizations must recognize these typical rhythms and be ready, from time to time, to actively focus on attitudinal and behavioural renewal.

The visioning process is an ideal and central strategy for facilitating organizational renewal. Harvard Business professor Rosa Beth Moss Kanter reminds us that the very strategies and ideas that make an organization successful today can cause it to fail tomorrow. Renewal is a natural part of the larger business cycle.

Visioning can significantly influence the performance of the organization if dedicated attention is paid to the arduous and lengthy process.

Dedication must include:

  • Creating alignment between individual and organizational values, mission and vision
  • Having staff from all levels and a diversity of departments (as well as representative stakeholders ) actively participate and give feedback about the process
  • Acknowledging that visioning is emotional and will evoke conflict
  • Ensuring that an effective process is in place to facilitate conflict

Questions to aid Visioning:

  • How do we get to the preferred future state?
  • How will we know we've arrived?
  • What will help us? What will delay us?
  • What strategies and programs are needed?
  • What's working (we should keep doing)?
  • What's not working (we should stop doing)?
  • How will we check our progress?
  • How will we conduct the implementation?
  • What are the implementation phases?
  • What have we learned up until now?

The need for Visioning Processes is intricately related to organizational change. Does change create the need for visioning or is it the other way around? This is probably a "chicken or egg" question. One thing we know for sure...change is going to be around forever!

When individuals or groups embrace a vision they have more energy and spirit to get the job done. The vision becomes a credo by which to perform exceptionally. It can breathe new life into a tired workplace and help remind people why they do what they do (especially on those days when they feel they've "fallen off the wagon").

Many organizations have acknowledged the importance and power of supporting workplace spirituality. Visioning is part of that larger process. Participating in visioning and living the vision statement helps release the spirit of both the individual and the organization.