When we are asked what makes strategic planning successful, we point to the articulation of an envisioned future – a vision of what the future will look like as a result of the accomplishments of the organization. Without this, strategic planning can become too operational too quickly.
An envisioned future articulates where you are going in the longer term planning horizon – ten years into the future. It is a concrete yet unrealized vision for the association. When you don’t know where you are going in the longer term, strategic planning becomes just doing what you are doing a little bit better. That usually turns into a glorified operational plan.
There are two parts to a proper envisioned future.
- External Vision – what we want the industry or profession to be or become as a result of our organization. This is sometimes referred to as your BHAG – big, hairy audacious goal as coined by Jim Collins. It is not something we are today but something we want to be in the future. Our external vision is a:
- Huge challenge with a clear finish line
- Unifying focal point for the work of the organization
- Vivid Description – The vivid description contains clear and concise statements about what the world be like if we achieved our vision. How is the organization going to help achieve this external vision? What will constitute success for the organization?
Having a well-defined and shared envisioned future, creates a pathway to define the goals of your strategic plan.