The 11 Step Vision-Based Planning Process – Part 3

Part 3 –Vision-Based Planning – Key elements and the 11 Steps – Synthesis into Vision, Mission and Values.

Focusing on the Future

The Phase 2 workshop requires the participants to pull together and synthesize all the material they produced in Phase 1 into a full VB Plan. Synthesizing is more than merely combining—it is the production of something that is more complex and different than the sum of parts. It is a new essence of what has gone before. It starts with the participants reviewing the WarRoom, which displays everything they did in Phase 1.

Editor’s Note: See Christine’s entire Series HERE

It describes every major step in the process, and later, it provides a template for a typical Phase 1 workshop for the participants to use in the future. In the review, we ask them to focus especially on the very last session from Phase 1 – Advice to Vision Makers and, in addition, the Mind-Map of the organization, and two futuristic sessions the “Ideal If,” and the Science-Fiction session (we will describe these in a future article. Next, we move to Steps 4-10, which are each designed to develop one element of the strategic plan.

Step  4: Develop the Vision and Values.
Step  5: Develop the Mission or Purpose.
Step  6: Develop Top-Level Strategic Goals.
Step  7: Develop Objectives to achieve goals.
Step  8: Develop strategies to achieve each Objective.
Step 9: Develop an Action Plan (measures, metrics, timeline, assign roles, and responsibilities).
Step 10: Develop an Implementation Plan (roles, responsibilities).
Step 11: Develop a Communication Plan.

We often create a diagram that illustrates how each workshop session (building block) contributes to the strategic plan as a whole. We will try to do the same thing in this chapter, discussing what each step involves and how it is essential to the development of the strategic plan.

Step 4: Develop the Vision and Values
A Vision provides direction for the organization, a guiding star, if you will. It is not quantitative, and it not directly measurable; it needs to be futuristic or timeless.

            Clarification of Critical Terms

A Vision is what an organization will be or become. It is generally written using existential verbs.
A Vision for a concept is what the concept will be or become. It is generally written using existential verbs.
Values are deeply held beliefs that have a strong emotional component.

We always develop a Vision from the perspective of either demand-pull or requirements-pull. In other words, we ask you to develop a vision for 5, 10, or 20 years into the future, from the perspective of what your customers or clients might want, or what you might be asked to do. Then we work backward to the present to see what it takes to make the demand-pull meet the supply-push or technology-push. It is not a linear process, and we frequently develop mini-scenarios to understand how they might make it work. Some organizations try to develop visions from technology-push perspectives, but these are generally less than successful, as they rarely take the end-user or consumer into account.

Following the review of the WarRoom, the participants work in small groups, where each participant writes down in a notebook the five key elements they believe need to be in the vision. Then, one at a time, the participants write down these elements on flip charts. The first participant writes down all five elements. If the second participant has an element that is very similar to one that the first person wrote down, then they add a checkmark next to that element, and then write down the remainder of the list. This is repeated until everyone has listed or checked off all the elements. Then the group prioritizes the whole list.

Each small group then writes a vision statement that contains all or most of the high-priority elements. The groups bring up their flip-chart easels to the front of the room, stand them in a row, and then read their efforts aloud to all the participants. The participants discuss the ideas and then vote on their preferred vision statement, and we, the consultants, ask if there are parts of the rejected Vision Statements that people would like to add to the preferred one. This is usually done by giving each person three colored dots to stick on the various parts of the sentences.

Finally, two or three people are asked to volunteer to write the final draft Vision Statement. This gets posted on the wall, and left for 24 hours for comments, tweaks, and rewrites. We then go through a final version of the Vision and get agreement on it from all participants. We seek consensus, not compromise, and we will work until we get it.


Everyone has Values, even if most people are not aware of them. An organization’s values need to be in alignment with those of its workforce. If they are not, then it can cause stress within the organization.

We put people into groups of three or four, and ask them to write down their Values on a 3×5 card. If people are not aware of their Values, we ask them to think about things that make them mad or make them really happy. Then we help them get to the root cause of their feeling. So, for instance, if people who are late for meetings makes the person mad, it’s not just lack of punctuality that is the problem, the root cause is usually lack of respect for others. This means that one of the person’s Values is respect for others. If seeing a movie in which someone triumphs over adversity makes a person feel happy or positive, then a likely value is courage or perseverance.

Once each person has written down four or five Values, we ask them to share them with the other members of their group, and also ask them to think about how they might play out in the organization.

Then we ask each small group to join with another one so we have groups of six to eight people, and we give them the task of developing Values for the organization. There are some organizations with a lot of history; the armed forces, for instance, where each service has had its own values for hundreds of years and is probably not going to change them. The same is true of other very old, and especially family-owned companies. In these situations, it is still useful to develop values that are appropriate and relevant for today, and individual commands can develop their own Values as well. We ask each group to produce six to eight Values and to think through how they might manifest in the organization. In other words, what does respect for others mean to a senior manager versus a person on a production line? For the senior manager, it might mean always being punctual. For someone on the production line who has to clock into his job, that is not an option, but it may mean making the place as clean and tidy as possible after a shift, or it may mean not cussing and swearing. Each group then presents its Values to the others, and we go through a process of collation similar to what we used to develop the vision statement. If some values have been identified by every group, then obviously those should be included in the final list. However, we still ask everyone to prioritize the Values by assigning colored dots (usually three per person).

Step 5: Develop the Mission or Purpose

Commercial organizations that are focused on products and services frequently have good, descriptive Mission Statements, yet they have no Vision. This is a mistake, as the two are very different concepts. Military organizations are assigned their Mission, although they may need to add to it or develop a separate statement of Purpose.

            Clarification of Critical Terms
The Mission or Purpose is what the organization does or what it is for. It is described with action verbs.

The process of developing a Mission Statement is identical to developing a Vision Statement, so please refer back to that section for instructions.

Once the participants are agreed on the Vision, Mission and Values, then they start work on the rest of the Strategic Plan…to be continued in the next article.

Editor’s Note: This Article is excerpted from Strategy with Passion: A Leader’s Guide to Exploiting the Future by MacNulty & Woodall


Christine MacNulty
Christine MacNulty
CHRISTINE MacNulty has forty years’ experience as a consultant in long-term strategic -planning for concepts as well as organizations, futures studies, foresight, and technology forecasting, technology assessment and related areas, as well as socio-cultural change. For the last twenty years, most of her consultancy has been conducted for the Department of Defense and the Services, NATO ACT, NATO NEC, the British Army’s Force Development & Training Command, and the German BBK. Prior to that her work was in the commercial arena where she had Fortune Global 500 clients. During the last thirty-five years Christine MacNulty has contributed methods and models for understanding social and cultural change through people’s values. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in 1989. She is the coauthor of two books: Industrial Applications of Technology Forecasting, Wiley, 1971 and Strategy with Passion – A Leader’s Guide to Exploiting the Future, August 2016. Her paper: “Method for minimizing the negative consequences of nth order effects in strategic communication actions and inactions” was published in NATO Defence Strategic Communications Journal, p 99, Winter 2015. Two monographs “Truth, Perception & Consequences” (2007) and “Transformation: From the Outside In or the Inside Out” (2008) were published by the Army War College. Perceptions, Values & Motivations in Cyberspace appeared in the IO Journal, 3rd Quarter, 2009, and The Value of Values for IO, SC & Intel was published in the August 2010 edition of the IO Journal.

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