Step Three: Developing a Shared Vision for the Work

The next step is for the Team to develop a shared Vision for their work. A Vision is defined as the process of forming a mental image in order to set goals, make plans and solve problems that guide the Team into the future. A shared Vision is the glue that binds together the plan and the Team. A shared Vision provides a screen or standard against which to test goals and strategies for their adherence to the overall intention of the plan. The shared Vision is the ultimate measuring stick against which all other activity connected with the plan is judged for its appropriateness and efficacy. The clearer and more compelling the Team’s Vision, the more powerful and effective the goals and strategies will be. The Vision the Team crafts in this step acts as a compass for the rest of the plan.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used to create them.
Albert Eistein

Your Team includes representatives from various agencies in your county. You may or may not have already known and/or worked with each other. Visioning is intimate and personal. A shared Vision involves revealing individually held beliefs and values. That can feel threatening.

In Step One and Step Two of this strategic planning process the Team discussions and input were about areas that are more fact-based – ‘problems’ and ‘issues’, about which everyone could commiserate, and an analysis for the Team to come to consensus on the Team’s collective assets (Strengths and Opportunities) and barriers (Weaknesses and Threats). After spending some time with each other in discussion, you are better prepared to embark on the more sensitive and personal topic of Vision.

Your Team’s Vision is your dream. It's what your Team believes are the ideal conditions; that is, how things would look if the issues important to you were completely, perfectly addressed. It might be a world at peace, or a community in which all people are treated as equals, regardless of disability. Vision statements are short phrases or sentences that convey your Team's hopes for the future.

A shared Vision is so much more than just a simple, solo, mental image. To illustrate, ask each Team member to picture something ordinary, such as the act of paying a bill. Now, ask each Team member to describe what they pictured when they thought about ‘paying a bill’. Is there a ‘shared understanding’ of what paying a bill looks like? Probably not as each of us go about that common task in our own way!

A Vision is a group picture of what success looks like at a time in the future. A Vision is not a mission statement. Mission statements describe the overall purpose of an organization or agency, providing the rationale for why that agency exists. A Vision is the word picture of the actual destination that the Team has in mind. A Vision for the Multi Agency Team work is especially unique since it represents the collective thought of individuals across several agencies. It’s a vivid description of what “success” looks and feels like—and the effect it has on the lives of transition youth and their families.

Visioning provides an avenue for focusing attention on collective thought and action within a plan for systems change in which no one person, agency, organization or institution is fully in charge. The Vision belongs equally to all members of the group. Visioning allows a multi agency Team to move from their differences in operation or responsibility to focus on their shared values and beliefs about youth in transition to adult life. Developing a shared Vison requires some dialogue, questioning, writing, and likely some word smithing – but it doesn’t have to be a tedious process.