Strategic Planning: How to Create a Shared Vision

Grab your crayons

A new year gives business and not-for-profit leaders a chance to reflect about the future and re-new or create a new shared vision for the organization. Creating a shared vision with co-workers is an excellent way to energize your team and your goals.  Here’s how:

 It’s a Creative Process

Vision is a picture of the future created in your imagination.  Note the key word, created.  Visioning is a creative process, not analytical.  A vision is your dream of what you’d like your organization to become.  It comes from the part of your brain that ‘sees’ things and typically where words are amiss.  That’s what makes it difficult to reach a shared vision.  We all ‘see’ different things. Don’t fret!  There’s a way.

Start with Crayons

Gather your focus group of visioneers, ideally away from the office and in an inspiring setting.  See our blog post  Who Do You Include in the Creative Process? for advice on selecting focus group members.  Provide crayons, art paper, felt pens and any other fun art materials you like.  Set the context and the purpose of the exercise… to create a long-term vision (10-25 years) for your organization.  Divide the group into at least 3 smaller break-out groups.  Ask each mini-group to DRAW their picture of the future of your company, department, club, or association.  Draw, not write.  Drawing ignites the ‘vision’ part of your brain.  Stick men rock!

Spark the Imagination

Everyone is creative but some of us don’t know that.  You may need to spark the group’s imagination with questions that flex their creative muscle.  What does our company look like and feel like 15 years from now?  Who are we working with?  What great things have we accomplished?  What do our customers or members say about us?  How do we behave?  How have we made our world a better place?  What makes us stand out?  What would a prestigious journalist write about us?  In what activity, could we be the best in Canada?  How are we better than today?

Capture the Common Thread

As each working group shares their picture of the future, capture common ideas and expressions – these become core elements of your shared vision.  You may be surprised to see how many similar aspirations are uncovered during this exercise.  Look for the common goal the budding artists have described. Write it down.  A truly effective vision will have a big bold goal and that vivid description.  The goal keeps your focus and the description inspires the heart and souls of your team.

Different team members will be inspired by different elements of your vision.  That’s great.  Communicate your vision per your audience. Our post Visioneering for Effective Business Planning – A Lesson from Leadercast 2016 provides tips on how to make your vision stick.

Unleash the inner artists in each member of your group, grab the crayons and enjoy that wonderful feeling of sharing the same dream.


By Kristine van der Pas-Norenius BSC, MSM, Senior Advisor, Strategic Planning Facilitator


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