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Why engage in visioning?

Communities engage in visioning processes for a variety of reasons, varying from one community to the next and from one point in time to another. Some communities engage in visioning on regular basis (e.g., every 5 years at Chapter) while others have never engaged in such a process. Visioning can be a cornerstone to a larger strategic planning process.

It is important to know “why” you want to engage in a visioning process because that will determine the type of process you create. Perhaps you want to do some visioning at Chapter as a step toward establishing goals for the next five years. Perhaps your community is at a critical juncture and you need to do visioning in a more comprehensive way in order to create a comprehensive strategic (pastoral) plan. Or perhaps you desire a transformative change process and are using visioning as the means for doing so.

Our first step in assisting communities with visioning is to help them clarify their goals. Next we help them plan processes that will accomplish their goals. In more comprehensive visioning processes there are a great many elements to consider (see below, “What’s in a vision?” ). Each of these will need to be addressed during the planning. In addition, there are many things that we know simply don’t work (see below, “What doesn’t work”). So in planning the plan, we help communities stay clear of these. For more information about, or assistance in creating, visioning processes, contact us.

What’s in a Vision?
Twelve Common Elements of a Visioning Process
  1. A guiding team

    • Leadership and membership in partnership together

    • Entrusted to be “holders” of the process; creating a structured process of dialogue

    • Powerful enough, credible enough, skilled enough and big enough to effect change

  2. An awakening 

    • Catalyst to “kick-start” the process to break through inertia, increasing a sense of urgency, and signal that this is not business as usual

    • Inspire and instill hope with compelling new evidence and wineskins

    • Reality testing and denial busting

  3. Embrace your realities

    • Study strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges

    • Look at milestones and trends, growth patterns and failures (i.e., learnings)

    • Ask those you serve: What do they need?

  4. Soul searching conversations 

    • Holy conversations about your faith life, your purpose, who you are and who God wants you to become and do

    • Go deep and touch the core: Your charism and your deepest beliefs, your spirituality, foundational stories

    • Reframe the essence of who you are in light of new consciousness (new vision)

  5. Develop partners in a shared vision

    • Invite full participation: Give all members voice, choice, authority and authorship

    • Invite initiative and develop leadership

    • Create ownership (buy-in) and empowerment for action

  6. Communicate, communicate, communicate 

    • Provide a rhythm of meetings that keeps the ball rolling

    • Keep giving back their words in written summaries that clearly connects their voices to the next step in the process

    • Leadership must lead and regularly meet with members

  7. Work through conflict and resistance as the heart-work of change 

    • Resistance is the doorway through which real change occurs

    • Working through (not around ) it is the only way to create lasting change

    • Conflict is the road to reconciliation, conversion and where the “new” is born

  8. Empower your members

    • Tap the shoulders and encourage members to lead committees and take initiative

    • Activate their potential, recognize their achievements and appreciate their efforts

    • Give people the tools, resources, training and authority they need

  9. Let die what needs to die and give way and nourishment to the new 

    • Choose to let go of the old, familiar, safe, tried and true, and big book of norms

    • Resource and encourage experimentation with the “new” (e.g., structures, ministries, life forms)

    • Become a learning community together

  10. Divergent thinking 

    • Unearth creative, out of the box, possibilities for a future

    • Look at hope-filled, passion-filled options

    • Write scenarios for a future

  11. Convergent thinking

    • Evaluate, modify, mold possibilities into a new vision

    • Winnow down options and build consensus

    • Discern, choose and ritualize the passage

  12. Work your vision into a strategic (pastoral) plan 

    • Measurable goals and objectives

    • Time-lines, budgets, lines of authority, etc.

    • Evaluate, modify, evaluate, modify, etc

    • Implementation…make it stick and don’t give up…

What doesn’t work? The Dirty Dozen
Twelve common mistakes in visioning processes
  1. Overly analytic, financially-based approach to creating a new vision

  2. Leadership driven, top-down approach and selling their vision to members

  3. Minimal participation by either leadership or membership

  4. Attempt to avoid, minimize or deny the inevitable conflict

  5. Attempt to control the chaos, the process or the outcome

  6. Develop a vision based upon “diminishment,” “aging,” “cost cutting,” “budget slashing” and other depressionegenic reasons for change

  7. Ask the experts or adopt what other communities are doing

  8. Communicate and frame things in an overly spiritualized, theologized or psychologized language

  9. Create a rigid process and time-line that does not adjust to feedback or the movement of the Spirit

  10. Move too slowly (lose momentum) or quickly (overwhelm)

  11. Create fifty projects all at once (go wide, not deep)

  12. Don’t use outside facilitation for critical or conflict-laden community conversations

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