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Article -> Visioning Provides Alternative to Planning

Date Added: November 2009

Note: This article appeared in the November 15, 2009 issue of The Green Bay Press-Gazette.

It’s the time of year for organizations to create strategic plans or review current plans for 2010. Instead, organizations should consider a “visioning” process rather than typical strategic planning.


Whereas strategic planning may be more focused on routine SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and financials; visioning views the organization several years out, working backwards to 2010.


Visioning combines strategic planning, innovation, dreaming and creative tension. It is anchored in an organization’s core beliefs, values and culture; while having a structured set of goals, strategies and tactics for execution.


Visualize your organization in 2012.

  • What does it look like? What will it become?
  • How many employees? What do they value?
  • Who are our customers? What do they value?
  • What markets are we in? What products/services do we offer?
  • What processes do we do better than everyone else?
  • What are our results?

While there still must be an assessment of the organization’s current status to provide a baseline for the visioning; visioning is a very different process from strategic planning as it is a disciplined approach. An external facilitator – trained in visioning – should be used to guide the process.


Those involved from the organization should include the leadership team, the next level of leaders, and other key stakeholders. Many organizations only include the leadership team; a mistake, as others are usually responsible for execution so they should be involved.


Goals and strategies are chosen as participants vote through a structured “dot” exercise whereby each person is given a certain number of dot stickers. This allows everyone to get the same voice as the CEO.


Once the 2012 vision is determined, tactics are created that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based (SMART). It is important for everyone to know who is responsible for each tactic to achieve effective execution. Visioning without proper execution is futile.


After completion, continuous review monthly or quarterly is necessary for execution and measurement. In this economy, it’s understandable to focus on the short-term; however, visioning provides the short-term plan with the long-term vision for success.

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