As with the guidance on mission statements, this section focuses on the how. The who is addressed at the end of this guide.
The following techniques may help you to identity and shape a suitable vision for your institution.
Do your research
There is little point in striving to excel in something that nobody wants. This is not an easy task. Not only are you operating in a crowded and competitive marketplace, but it can also be difficult to predict now what might be in demand in five years time. Techniques such as scenario planning or some of our participatory approaches may be as close as you can get to a crystal ball in this regard.
Try to visualise the organisation you wish to become. Think about and/or articulate what it will be like to work or study at. Perhaps try using creative approaches such as describing a fictional person’s ‘journey’ or ‘storyboard’ through this new institution, or graphical metaphors to help visualise it. Anything which helps people to think outside of the constraints of how things currently are and to envisage how they might wish it to be.
Avoid the temptation of letting where you are now necessarily dictate your vision of where you want to be. Your vision statement should be proactive, not reactive and focused on new horizons, not retreading the same well worn ground.
Look for synergies
Though people may articulate them in different ways, or chose to stress differing aspects, you may find it useful to look beyond the differences and to identify those goals which, though on the surface appear different, actually share the same roots or characteristics and whose realisation would represent fundamentally the same achievement.
Check whether any proposed elements of the vision statement are possibly contradictory in nature.
Consideration of the above in as open, creative and constructive an environment as possible should help to ensure that your vision is as broad, inspiring and challenging as possible and will, therefore, set the right overall agenda for your strategic activity. Of course, the challenge is often how to achieve consensus, especially across large, diverse and devolved institutions.
More information on who to involve in such discussions and how is covered later on in this resource.