|Visioning: Imagine the Future for Your Strategic Plan|
Imagine a crystal ball in your hands. The clouds in the crystal give way to clarity and inside you can see the future of your organization. Clear. Concise. Attainable.
Association Resources does not have such a crystal ball, but knows how to help crystalize a clear future for your organization by using a board visioning exercise to bring clarity to your organization’s mission, goals, and future.
The first step for an effective visioning exercise is to identify a few areas that you wish to harness the power of the board’s imagination. Areas such as Identity and Branding, Programs and Events, Membership, and Volunteer Develop and Engagement are great topics for the visioning exercise.
Association Resources staff has served as moderators during visioning exercises to encourage a safe environment for brainstorming. Welcoming all ideas are a must, for even outlandish ideas can help a group generate creative solutions. Visioning has to provide a safe place for the board members to brainstorm. All ideas must be welcome at the start of the exercise. Big dreams are to be encouraged! Crazy ideas help generate new, practical ones. All responses have to be universally accepted in its initial phase. Encourage all responses without judgement.
The moderator provides guidance during the visioning exercise. Once the areas the board wants addressed are identified, the moderator presents the information in a new way, one method is to imagine they are speaking with a reporter ten years from now. The interview with this reporter addresses the successes made in the past decade. Board members are asked to respond with imagined past tense successes that happened in the past ten years.
Simple tools are helpful for setting up the exercise. If everyone is together, pads and pens are a must. Poster paper and multi-colored stickers are useful later on in the process.
Because your board may have a mixture of extroverts and introverts, a first visioning step addressing the topic is to have 15-20 minutes for the members to sit quietly and write down their initial ideas on the topic. Following this time of personal reflection, a scribe will accept all ideas and write them down on poster paper. All ideas should be shared until the ideas run out on that topic.
Poster pages are distributed around the room and board members are provided with several colored stickers to label their top favorite ideas. Taking the jumble of great ideas and forcing members to pick their favorites will yield interesting results as all the great ideas now need to be prioritized. The ideas with the most votes can be combined and the step repeated until there is a consensus of the board.
The board then can review the results of the vision process for relevance to the organization. The members should then identity the three to five top target priorities to be used for the initial planning.
It may not be as easy as holding a magical crystal ball, but your board members will be amazed at the results of the visioning exercise once your harness the combined imagination of your board members.
AR offers services including Board orientation and development sessions, bylaws reviews, and strategic action planning. AR believes that clearly defined governance is an association priority for effective management, and we welcome the chance to help organizations with this important area.