Creating shared understanding of future possibilities

A strategic vision is usually thought to be solely future oriented.

An alternate view from the field of organizational learning expands this to shared vision, which also includes a present component.

This definition of vision is a collective belief in what the organization can become.  In this way it is similar to a truly desired wish for the future.  The difference, however, is in how we mold ourselves to adapt to the environment without expecting to be able to change the environment itself.  Yes, there is an implicit assumption about the future.  However, if the vision is sufficiently broad it will suffice for providing a framework for current decisions.  Granted, all decisions are made in the present.  Yet, to work toward something grander than the present employs some probability of future outcomes upon which to make decisions, all other things being equal.

Regarding feedback loops for control, such feedback can be employed for both corrective action and vision revision (interesting combination of words).  If the feedback indicates a problem in the implementation and nothing amiss in the expected vision then the strategy and/or tactics can be altered to get back on track toward the vision.  And if there is an indication that the vision is no longer realistic there is no problem with a shift in vision to a more workable vision.  Normal planning cycles allow for such a step on an annual basis, which is probably too long for planning within a dynamic environment.  But this gets back to the dynamics of the planning process itself.  This approach to using feedback is similar to the use of a tracking ratio to serve as a warning system for a forecast that is no longer adequate to the current reality.


Putting an organization mission & vision in place requires working at all levels of the organization.  Oftentimes, the effort is only made at the top of the organization with the expectation that employee commitment will follow.  Instead, limited compliance is accomplished, at best.  It is recommended that a specific change program be put in place to develop a shared vision and common understanding of the group's mission.  The Mission-Vision Questionnaire is designed to raise awareness and tracking progress for grassroots visioning as the change initiative moves forward.  Also see Visioning Team for guidance on establishing a process to build a shared vision.  [kick-off meeting]

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Transformative Networking connecting change leaders to enable self-organized grassroots change.

Next Steps While still conceptual, transformative networking offers the possibility of leading change through the networking of those already interested or involved in similar initiatives, effectively tearing down existing silos of practice that exist across disciplines and fields of work.  The next step is to develop a proof of concept built on the theoretical underpinnings above, possibly using Google Wave as the collaboration platform.  Included will be identifying the minimal structure and governance required to enable self-organization within the network while not constraining what might emerge.  Join this initiative and help create the future of organizing - networking communities of interest.    

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Last modified: July 19, 2009