At our workshop for the Gigabit City Summit, we shared multiple strategic thinking exercises we use to help organizations achieve better business results. Since our audience included some of the most innovative, forward-looking communities in the US, our specific focus was articulating a shared vision for the community to shape development and implementation of a significant broadband initiative.

During our Gigabit City Summit workshop discussion, one mayor in the audience expressed the concern that a "vision" seems squishy and only so many words that don't really do much in shaping a direction.

That's likely a common sentiment about vision statements. And while it can be true, it doesn't have to be.


A Shared Vision and Better Business Results

Here's why we're proponents of articulating a shared vision for an organization and its important audiences. A well-developed vision:

  • Points to a future direction
  • Incorporates the aspirations of a broad audience
  • Suggests how the organization will move toward the future direction
  • Excites and invites the community to become a part of the vision
  • Speaks clearly and emotionally to the audience
  • Supports and aligns the other elements of the organization's strategic direction

One important point is that the vision doesn't HAVE to be a "statement." While it certainly can be summed up in one sentence, a shared vision that's intended to meaningfully lead to better business results could be a much longer work that describes the future. Rather than being written, the vision may find its best form in pictures, an infographic, a video, or even some type of physical representation. Or the vision could be comprised of all of these.

So, yes, a vision can be fluffy.

But if you approach articulating a vision as a foundation step that's vital for better business results and do so in a smart, inclusive way, a shared vision can be the most important strategic element an organization has at its disposal. – Mike Brown

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