6 Steps for Crafting a Compelling Vision

Crafting a compelling vision is the sine qua non of effective leadership. Interestingly, most people struggle with this. “Creating a vision” might sound quite daunting, but the reality is that just about anyone can create a good vision. Danielle Harlan, in her latest leadership book “The New Alpha” shares six easy-peasy steps on crafting a compelling vision for your organization.

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Step 1. Identify the Scope of Your Vision

  • Whom is the vision for? Is it for your entire organization or a team that you lead, or are you crafting a vision for your particular role in the organization? (This last one, by the way, is something that I recommend everyone do – whether you’re the CEO or a summer intern). Write down your response.
  • What is the time frame for your vision? Is it a vision for 50 years down the road, 10 years, 5 years, 1 year? There’s not right answer here, but it’s important to have a rough timeline in mind to help frame your initial thinking. Jot down your response below.

Step 2: Brainstorm the Future.

You can do this in advance or you can involve your team if you have one. There’s pros and cons to both options. If you involve other people, it definitely creates more creative ideas and builds buy-in from key players, but it is far more time-consuming especially if you haven’t taken time to think much about it before involving others.

A good place to start is where you come up with a handful of guiding ideas and then involve your team in this process to get some initial feedback and to fill in the details.

If you are launching an entirely new organization, it will be helpful to review your personal vision for any ideas that may also underlie the organizational vision. Ideally, regardless of where you work and what you do, the group vision should align with your personal vision.

Step 3: Pick the Best Ideas and Write a Draft of the Vision

Alone, or with others, select the best ideas from the list that you generated in Step 2, and write out a draft of the vision. Ideally this is a paragraph or a page at most. Remember the vision should paint a picture of where the group is headed, and it should be written in a way that’s inspiring and motivating to the group.

Step 4: Get Feedback and Make Updates

Circulate the draft to key stakeholders. These might include your boss, peers, direct reports, customers, clients, investors or board members. Once you’ve collected and analyzed their feedback, make notes about what you want to change about the vision. What ides are missing or need to be expanded upon?

List any changes that you’d like to make to the vision statement here:

Now write the revision version of your vision statement here:

Step 5: Note Progress

Before you make the vision official, highlight any past or current accomplishments that show progress toward this vision. This will generate early wins and get people excited.

Write down any past or current accomplishments that support your vision. Don’t be overly modest. You don’t have to make everything on this list public, but it’s good to identify early wins since these initial successes will provide a strong mental and emotional foundation for the work ahead.

Step 6: Share (and Keep Sharing) the Vision

Depending on your role, you might be sharing the vision with the entire organization, with your team, your supervisor, or just close colleagues. If you lead a group, here’s a few tips that will help you build long-term buy-in around the vision:

  • Be enthusiastic and passionate about the vision. When people see that you’re sincerely excited about where you’re headed, they’ll get excited too.
  • Get people to share (and reshare) what the vision means to them. At your next meeting, ask people to think about the vision and why it’s important to them.
  • Share positive feedback from employees, customers, or others that shows progress toward the vision.
  • Be a walking advertisement for the vision. Bring it up on a regular basis, and always connect the group’s work back to it. As a leader, your people look to you to see how serious or important this “vision stuff” really is.

Make a list below of all the ways that you can share (and keep sharing) the vision. When you’re finished, calendar any tasks or to-dos, and communicate these ideas to anyone else who can be helpful in spreading the word. This last part is critical: enabling others to own and share the vision will ensure that it spreads more quickly, and will take some of the work off your shoulders. It will also ensure that the vision exists and has meaning and impact even in your absence.