The 11 Step Vision-Based Planning Process

We have found a workshop approach to be the fastest and most effective approach to developing, coordinating, and disseminating strategies for large complex organizations. For our purposes, a workshop is defined as an intensive, interactive session with the leadership, designed to achieve some practical and actionable result.

The workshop venue is best for the following reasons:

  • You, your leadership team, and stakeholders can work together to produce shared results (reaching a genuine consensus) to which all of you will be committed. Since the results are yours, you are going to be enthusiastic about implementing them.
  • Working in this way enables you and the project team to consider the views of large numbers of key people in parallel, which enables the team to produce its results quickly.
  • Interactive work is one of the most effective ways to generate new and innovative ideas through cross-fertilization of experience and discipline.
  • Each participant knows his/her voice has been heard; this minimizes discontent and maximizes buy-in.
  • The issues raised by the different corporate or national cultures and the methods of the various members of the leadership or stakeholders are worked on together in the context of developing the shared vision and strategies.
  • Participation in the workshops leads to improved communication, trust, and team-building among the participants.

As mentioned above, by sharing their different perspectives, you and the other participants develop a robust vision and strategies to which all of you are committed. In addition to the production of the vision and strategies, the workshop is designed so all of you develop a systems’ view of your organization and its operations. This enables you to see it as a whole so you can consider options for improving the management structure, organizational structure, and business performance.

In building this systems’ view, all of you work on such topics as the organization’s vision, its purpose or mission, its responsibilities, its values, the role of leadership, and the internal stakeholders. You also look at expectations, needs, values and visions of key individuals, and what all these may mean for the organizational structure, training and development. In situations involving key external stakeholders or partnerships, we consider the cultures, and the requirements and concerns of each stakeholder or partner. Any problems facing the organization or partnership, or which are preoccupying the leadership are also solved or resolved in the workshop process. The participants spend considerable time addressing the issues of all external stakeholders and the means by which those stakeholders’ needs can be satisfied. External stakeholders include such groups as customers, suppliers, and political organizations. You also develop measures and metrics, objectives and milestones to ensure that you can assess their effectiveness and performance in achieving the vision and outcomes.

The design of the workshop is key to producing the required results. We combine our knowledge of strategy and strategic planning, together with our capabilities in facilitation and group dynamics, to produce workshops that are intensive, interactive, and productive. We use a combination of analytical and problem-solving techniques (“left-brained” techniques) together with psychological and creative (“right-brained”) techniques. This combination of approaches enables all of you to see your organization from different perspectives and to “get-out-of-the-box.”

Each workshop is outcome-focused. The design of each workshop is unique and based on extensive discussions and interviews with the client’s leadership. Each day of the workshop is designed in 30- to 60-minute sessions or segments, each of which contributes directly and visibly to the desired output. Yet if we become aware of problems that did not surface earlier, we are flexible enough to be able to take the time to work on them. At the end of the workshop, all of you are asked to grade yourselves on such topics as level of understanding of the vision and strategic plan; level of understanding of what each of you and/or your organizations need to do to further the vision; and personal commitment to the vision and strategic plan. The final step in the process is for each of you to commit to specific actions starting the day/week after the workshop. This cements both the results and the personal relationships developed during the process.

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.


  1. To mobilize people at all levels always involves something that integrates them all together. It can be a strategy outlined in this article. It can also be a blueprint, story, or metaphoric picture (aka the journey picture). What ever that central tie in is, it must be something familiar to all parties involved; something that ties into their life experiences. And this is getting more and more difficult to do because of the diversity in global companies.



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