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Key Factors for Viable Visions


Visions of a shared future are an emotional and conceptual map that help guide actions and efforts towards specific future conditions. Clearly not all shared visions are equal: some are better, stronger, and more compelling than others. Through the years we've helped build hundreds of visions and several key factors emerge as determinate factors for a vision's effectiveness and chance for survival. These factors are: buy-in, purpose, and process. Let’s take a closer look at each.


A vision without advocates goes nowhere because it takes people to bring a vision to life. While it's ideal to have a group full of aligned advocates, sometimes that is not possible. The success of a vision often relies on a strategic alliance of stakeholders who identify themselves in, believe in, and take action to attain a shared vision. Buy-in is the basic requirement for a shared vision, otherwise it's not shared.


A component of how well people buy-in to a vision is the alignment of the vision's purpose with their own needs, values, and aspirations. Purpose addresses both WHAT the future can be like, and WHY it is worth the effort. Establishing common purpose is the basic requirement for buy-in.


The way one gets to a consensus on a common purpose defines the authenticity and legitimacy of the resulting vision. The processes to engage stakeholders who share a future needs to be transparent and balanced. An open and responsive process for collecting relevant input that helps identify WHAT the future can be like, WHY it's important, and HOW it's attainable is inextricably connected to quality of purpose and the degree of stakeholder buy-in. The better the purpose and the better the process, the result is better buy-in.