What fuels the momentum for transformational change? Transformation has more vitality and purpose when it is inspired by a vision statement (a desired future state) that compels unified action throughout your organization. A vision for change is more powerful when it is co-created by large numbers of your stakeholders rather than handed down by senior leaders. When people participate in the formation of a shared vision, they are far more likely to achieve it.
What Happens When Stakeholders Are Left Out of the Visioning Process?
When stakeholders are not included in envisioning a better future:
- Key individuals may be overlooked or ignored and become a force against the change
- The vision is likely to lack momentum or credibility.
- The vision statement loses leverage and energy because stakeholders have no way to react to it constructively, refine it, or alter it to something they can get behind.
- The vision is less likely to address culture, which impairs your outcomes.
- People may not find relevance and meaning in the vision.
Why Leaders Fail to Involve Stakeholders in the Visioning Process
Given the implications of not involving stakeholders, why are they often left out of this process? Leaders often overlook engaging stakeholders in the visioning process because:
- They do not understand the power of involving the whole organization.
- They believe engagement takes too much time or energy.
- They think they already have the right vision. and are not interested in getting more input.
- There is cynicism and resistance about creating a vision that is too “soft”.
- There are no resources or time for this task.
Mobilizing Unified Action through a Co-Creative Visioning Process
Designing a high-engagement, co-creative visioning process has enormous leverage for successful transformation. A co-creative process demonstrates transformational leaders’ commitment to employee involvement and their understanding that bringing people along by asking for their best thinking has lasting benefit for success. During organizational change, it is often exactly what is needed to mobilize unified action. What does a co-creative visioning process look like?
There are many ways to engage your people to generate input to your vision or to actually define it. Consider who has energy for crafting a better future for the organization. These would be the best people to involve, as individuals or as part of a collaborative group meeting. First, identify the parameters for the vision…its scope or limitations. These become ground rules for what people generate. Clarify what level of influence people’s input will have on the final version, Give people free reign for a while to brainstorm all of the greatest possibilities they see to meet the parameters. Encourage them to use words that are the most compelling, and will energize people to want to act on it. With the key people who will approve and own the vision, gather and hone people’s input. Proceed to craft the vision statement, and then share it with a sense of celebration and appreciation for those who were involved.
What if you Can’t Involve Many People in the Visioning Process?
Examples do exist where a corporate vision created only by the top leader or executive team produced enough energy and motivation to mobilize an organization-wide transformation. In these situations, the organization was in crisis and everyone knew it, or the leaders were well-respected and charismatic, rather than feared. In other words, people believed the leaders’ new direction was needed, correct, and compelling. In situations like these, the leaders may develop the vision themselves and then devise a compelling rollout strategy.