What is a Visioning Exercise?

A visioning exercise is a powerful tool that can help organizations clarify their values, mission, and goals, and align them with their activities. It allows participants to imagine what success looks like for their organization without being told by someone else. This blog explores the key components, goal areas, and essential steps for conducting a transformative visioning exercise that empowers your organization to thrive.

Key Components: Bringing the Vision to Life

When conducting a visioning exercise, it’s important to provide participants with different perspectives to consider. Here are the key components to include:

    • Customers: Ask participants to imagine and listen to what customers are saying about the organization.

    • Employees: Encourage participants to visualize and listen to what employees are saying about the organization.

    • Competitors/Other Stakeholders: Have participants imagine what competitors or other stakeholders are saying about the organization.

    • Actions: Ask participants to visualize the actions taken to achieve success.

    • Results: Have participants imagine the results that were achieved.

The order in which you present these components may vary depending on the visualization.

Goal Areas: Defining Success

After the visualization exercise, have each participant write down what they saw. Then, form breakout teams to consolidate everyone’s visions onto post-it notes. Next, have the breakout teams share their vision list with the entire team and group them into logical categories.

These categories represent the broad areas where success is necessary. They become the goals that define success for your organization. It’s common for organizations to discover key areas of success through this exercise, as it allows individuals to visualize their interpretation of success.

Essential Steps: Making the Vision a Reality

To conduct a successful visioning exercise, follow these steps:

1. Assemble a diverse team: Bring together stakeholders with different expertise and perspectives from your organization.

2. Define the purpose and goals: Clearly state the purpose of the exercise and identify the goals you want to achieve.

3. Prepare with tools and resources: Provide the necessary tools and resources to support the exercise.

4. Use the visioning exercise methodology: Create a shared vision of success, identify obstacles, develop strategies to overcome them, and create an action plan.

5. Facilitate effectively: Create a safe and supportive environment for discussion and collaboration.

6. Refine and clarify the vision: Review the outputs from the exercise, identify common themes and patterns, and synthesize them into a clear vision statement.

7. Communicate the vision: Share the vision statement and outline the goals and objectives with the wider organization.

What’s the Difference Between Goals and Objectives?

Remember, goals are broad, long-term aims that define the accomplishment of your mission, while objectives are specific, measurable targets that measure the accomplishment of a goal over a specific period. A visioning exercise can help you identify your organization’s broad goals and objectives.

Learn More and Take Action

To learn more about conducting a successful visioning exercise, consider taking our course, The Secrets to Facilitating Strategy. In this course, we provide facilitators with the “secrets’ we’ve learned for conducting successful visioning exercises and other important strategic planning processes. One of the key secrets is using a visioning exercise to help groups discover broader goals.