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Home Building Communities

Vision

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For several years, many communities in the Diaspora have been trying to get more organized. Many organizations are short living for various reasons. In almost all the communities we have observed, it appears like there is no sense of common purpose. As a result, most communities are weak despite the prosperity and advancement of some of their members. This article is aiming at sensitizing communities about the importance of laying out a clear vision for their success.

What is vision?

Graham (n.d.), in defining vision stated that a vision is a mental picture of the result you want to achieve…a picture so clear and strong it will help make that result real. A vision is not a vague wish or dream or hope. It’s a picture of the real results of real efforts. It comes from the future and informs and energizes the present. According to him, visioning is the most powerful tool he has witnessed in over twenty years of helping organizations and individuals get the results they want. For Evans and Lindsay (2008), “vision describes where the organization is headed and what it intends to be; it is a statement of the future that would not happen by itself”.

These 2 definitions clearly outline 2 things with regards to vision:

1) A clear picture of the future that you want to be.
2) Something has to be done to realize the vision.

Importance of vision

According to Graham, a vision:

1) Inspires action.
2) Is a practical guide.
3) Helps keep organizations and groups focused and together.

Evans and Lindsay, drawing lessons from Dr. W. Edwards Deming, one of the greatest pioneers of Quality stated that “an organization must define its values, mission, and vision of the future to provide a long-term direction for its management and employees”. The importance of a vision cannot be better expressed than by this biblical scripture: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29, 18 King James Version). In other words, the lack of vision leads to disaster. Munroe Myles (2003), discussing vision, stated that the poorest person in the world is a person without a dream. …. A visionless life is a poverty-stricken existence…. The greatest gift ever given to mankind is not the gift of sight, but the gift of vision … Eyes that look are common, but eyes that look are rare…Vision inspires the depressed and motivates the discouraged .

In essence, an individual, an organization or a community without a vision is like a ship wandering at sea, being blown in any direction by the wind. It is just by good luck that it has not yet sunk. According to our observations, none of the community organizations we referred to at the beginning of this article ever outlined its vision for the future.

Defining a common vision: the process

Lachapelle, Austin and Clark (2010) have defined Community Strategic Visioning (CSV), also referred to as "community visioning" or simply "visioning," as a citizen-based planning process in which diverse sectors of a community use collaboration and consensus-building techniques to collectively define an issue, identify community assets, and determine a desired future through a coordinated plan of action. According to them, CSV is increasingly cited as an efficient and effective mean of identifying core community values; prioritizing goals and strategies; and implementing community plans, policies, and decisions.

According to this definition, CSV entails:

1) Diverse sectors of the community coming together.
2) Collective definition of an issue.
3) Identification of community assets.
4) Determination of a desired future through a coordinated plan.

More is needed to reach a vision

Having a vision is not enough. Graham, Evans and Lindsay are in accordance; vision will not just happen by itself.

Evans and Lindsay (2008) are of the opinion that vision must be consistent with the culture and the values of the organization. Values or guiding principles, guide the journey to a vision by defining attitudes and policies for all employees, which are reinforced through conscious and subconscious behavior at all levels of the organization. With regards to organizations, according to Gray and Larson (2008), organizational culture refers to a system of shared norms, beliefs, values, and assumptions which binds people together, thereby creating shared meaning.…The more clearly an organization’s shared perceptions and values are stated, the more strongly people can identify with their organization and feel a vital part of it…. Culture clarifies and reinforces standards of behavior, and helps create social order within an organization.

In essence, a suitable environment is needed in order to realize a vision. There is need to put in place an infrastructure that will facilitate collaboration and consensus building. Leadership is critical to success.

By J.H. Mukendi Kazadi

Reference list

1) Evans, J.R., Lindsay (2008). Managing for Quality and Performance Excellence. 7th ed. Thomson Higher Education. Mason, USA.
2) Graham, J. (n.d.). The Importance of Vision. Retrieved March 31, 2011 from http://www.johngrahamspeaker.org/5-the-importance-of-vision.
3) Gray, C.F., Larson, E.W. (2008). Project Management, the managerial process. 4th edition. McGraw-Hill/Irwin, New York. 2008
4) Lachapelle, P., Austin, E and Clark, D (February 2010). Community strategic visioning as a method to define and address poverty: an analysis from select rural Montana communities. Journal of Extension, 48(1), Article 1FEA1. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from http://www.joe.org/joe/2010february/a1.php.
5) Munroe, M. (2003). The Principles and Power Vision: Keys to Achieving Personal and Corporate Destiny. Whitaker House. New Kensington, USA.

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 February 2013 23:12