What is vision of an organisation? Organisations must regularly shape and reshape their own understanding of what to aim at and how to get there. A vision is therefore an ‘image of the future’ An image of what the organisation should/could become It may be partly analytical and partly emotional so that all members can connect with it. A group of organisations with a common purpose can also have a common vision – as in the case of Aajeevika Skills.
Why is the need of a vision? A clear and well formulated vision gives all employees the feeling that the organisation is carrying out a meaningful task Hence a vision can serve as a motivating factor even for those making small contributions in the organisation It helps when the organisation is going through hard times – motivates the members to keep on going. Helps to create a feeling of solidarity that is mutually shared – fosters mutual dialogue and cooperation Vision serves as a beacon – gives clear direction for the organisation People can understand why certain rules and values exist Helps to generate a specific organisational culture and identity A strong image to the outside world helps to attract clients, suppliers, potential employees, sponsors and other stakeholders. Creates confidence in external parties Provides a standard you can use to measure activities – is this contributing to the realisation of our vision?
Key elements of a vision There are four-five main elements of a formally stated vision: – Mission - core business – Long term goal – Working approach and core values – Core activities/ product and clients – Slogan (optional)
Mission The mission of an organisation is in fact the reason for its existence. IT is largely determined by its core business, its main field of activity It answers the question: Why are we here, what purpose do we serve?
Long term goal As vision is future-oriented, it is good to define one or more long-term goals Can be specified over a period between five (professional services organisation) and 30 years (e.g. for an oil exploration company)
Working approach and core values Working approach and core values go hand in hand It answers the questions: – What do we find important in our work? – How do we want to carry out our work and deal with our colleagues, suppliers, clients and other stakeholders? Core values emphasis the manner in which the members want to do their business or carry out their activities. There will often be a tension between actual working approach and values on the one hand and desired ones on the other – this may be necessary to make the organisation change for the better. However, it may not work if the gap between actual and desired working approach is too large
Core activities/products and clients Core activities/ products and clients provides an understanding of how the organisation tries to realise its mission. Organisations must also regularly rethink the way in which they want to realise their mission in future.
Slogan It is worthwhile to formulate in one sentence the ‘heart of the vision’. Such a slogan makes it easier to explain the vision and to keep it alive within the environment of the organisation
Illustration: Institutional Strengthening for Private Agriculture (ISAP) Foundation Mission/ core business – to unite and support (small?) agricultural producers to increase their income Long term goal – ISPA has a 10-20 year horizon for its goals: – to build a strong, respected, reliable and financially and politically independent organisation, uniting committed ongoing agricultural producers of ---- district and if proven successful to other districts of the region. Working approach and core values – Farmers’ participation – Reliability and mutual trust – Quality – Transparency Core activities/ product and clients – Facilitating supply of inputs – Assisting agricultural producers in selling their produce – Provision of information and knowledge – Advocacy/representing interests of agricultural producers
How good is your vision? A well-developed vision shows the following characteristics: – Challenging Having an inherent tension between what is already there and what is not yet there – Inspiring Emphasizing what the organisation aspires to be – Shared Vision must have been contributed to by the majority of the stakeholders Must be reviewed once in every 3-5 years as stakeholders and employees also keep changing – Binding Everyone should feel part of the team – be able to identify own individual vision (at least partly) within the vision of the organisation – Giving Direction Must be clear enough to serve as a beacon or guide in all major decisions of the organisation
Creating a shared vision Leaders go through several steps to create a shared vision Leaders start clarifying how they see the future of the organisation Allow time for employees to talk about it and think it over Leaders listen to the views of members at different levels and from different departments Engage in dialogue – giving equal importance to all stakeholders and employees Check whether everyone can recognise his /her own contribution
Conclusion Vision development is a time and energy consuming process But it also gives the organisation a lot of satisfaction and motivation A shared vision can be a very valuable instrument to guide an organisation and make it become a reference point in society