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Vision-Driven Strategic Planning

Creating the Future

The most striking difference between vision-driven planning and more traditional approaches is that vision-driven planning starts with a very high-level view of the future, rather than risking becoming attracted to — and stuck in — today's problems. The vision-driven planning approach initially encourages broad, imaginative thinking, and discourages tunnel vision and entrapment in details. Because the traditional approach most often burdens the planner with voluminous details regarding the historical perspective, current situation and problems, it is virtually impossible to focus on a plan for the future.
A vision-driven planning approach is designed to create a shared organizational future of choice. The collaborative development of a 3- to 5-year vision-driven plan aligns subordinate departments through a shared mission, vision, goals and objectives with linked performance, metrics, structures, actions, customer processes and overall team and individual accountability.


There are three key characteristics of high-peformance organizations and teams. They:      

  • Are clear about their basic purpose (mission).     
  • A clear picture (vision) of what they are trying to create together.       
  • Share a common set of values reflected in organizational behaviors. 


So what steps are needed to reverse deploy a plan for today that, if implemented, will create an organizational future of choice vs. happenstance? It is a seven step process with the first six steps intended to provide an increasingly detailed set of activities which, when rolled from the bottom up will create the future. 


  1. Determining Organizational Readiness. This phase involves assessing how ready  the organization is for vision-driven planning. 
  2. Performing an Organizational Assessment. This step involves an honest assessment of the organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT). Most strategic planning involves this process but with vision-driven planning it is expanded to include mission, vision and values discussions.  
  3. Creating an Organizational Vision. This step builds internal consensus regarding what the organization wants to be in three to five years, in non-financial terms.  
  4. Identifying Strategic Issues, Goals (results) and Objectives (projects). Strategic issues are broad-scope, large overarching strategic issues (i.e., HR, IT, finance, et al) that must be addressed to be successful. Goals (results) and objectives (projects) are measureable tools for accomplishing the strategic issues.  
  5. Planning Action Steps. After identifying promising strategies cross-functional organizational teams are asked to further investigate the issues and tailor actions to fit these large, broad problems, opportunities and resources. 
  6. Moving to Action. This phase has four major goals: synthesize, prioritize, set metrics and communicate. 
  7. Monitoring and Feedback Loops. Staying on track requires assigning a group the responsibilities of monitoring progress and the taking of any needed corrective actions. 


This seven-step process is duplicated in subordinate departments/divisions to create their vision-driven strategic plans to align with the organization's overarching plan. 

Learn More

Download the working papers on strategic planning below.

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Joel Barker on Vision