One of the interesting things I have found in my coaching over the past 15 years is the confusion often experienced by leaders, and their teams, when creating a vision. Creating a vision that motivates people to action isn’t as easy as one might think. It has been said by some, “One Man One Vision’ but is this really the best way? What actually is a vision? Where does it come from and how can this motivate our church, community or organisation to all be working in the same direction? How can we discern what the people want rather than needing to convince them of a great idea? Here are a few thoughts that I hope will help you get started. Of course, having a coach work with you through this process can be of great benefit.
1. What is a vision? Confusion often begins when people don’t appreciate that a vision is a description, a sentence dominated by adjectives that describes what your desired future will look like. It’s not about what you will do, or even where you a going, but rather what it’s going to look like when you get there, wherever ‘there’ is. So, finding that place, and describing it, is the challenge of your vision. The more accurate you are in identifying the desires and aspirations of your community’s vision, the more likely members will be motivated to try and get there. After all, it must be their vision also. So where does this vision come from?
2. How STORY can help us arrive at a vision? I think we have all been at strategic planning meetings and we understand the power of doing a successful S.W.O.T. analysis. Coming up with our dot points on the whiteboard for our plan for the future. This can be a successful method in finding a way forward through the chaos and challenges life throws at us, but it’s not that helpful in finding a common vision that members can embrace and commit to. Bullet points don’t work unless they are related to our personal stories, like: Why we came? Why we stayed? What we are most proud of in the community? What has touched us? These questions are best answered by a story. Listening to your leaders share their own stories is the fertile ground for vision casting that motivates, builds trust and inspires commitment.
3. Drawing out the Gold. In gatherings where communities share their stories over a day, energy materializes. Drawing out the important issues each member shares within their personal story and writing this down on the board replaces the ‘good idea’ dot point. This issue has a history, an experience, a human example everyone understands and can relate to. It’s powerful, meaningful and easily recalled. It’s more than a bullet point, it becomes a summary of someone’s heart story and is valued, respected and remembered.
4. Creating the Vision. A good vision is simple, a few words making a descriptive sentence which reflects one to three common elements that come out of the many stories heard over the course of the day. Who are we and what do we want? Where are we now and where do we want to be as a community, a church or organisation? After a day of stories and reflection these questions become easy to answer A joint, descriptive statement encapsulating the common values of where you want to be, is your vision. It’s linked to your stories, your people, your past and your future.
Creating a vision through the power of STORY is only the beginning. Now the Mission can be clearly identified, and it makes sense. Action happens as people respond to what they see as valuable, important and already there in some measure. Your community’s distinctives have been identified, the unique stories and life and struggle of overcoming and celebration are all identified and become the grounding bedrock to your way forward.
This story-based process works and with a coach helping you, facilitating the day and drawing out the important elements, it establishes the foundation for the next generation.