ESTABLISHING AN EFFECTIVE ORGANIZATIONAL VISION FOR THE FUTURE
You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born.
RAINER MARIA RILKE
he purpose of step 8 in the strategic planning process is to develop a clear and succinct description of what the organization (or community) should look like as it successfully implements its strategies, achievesits full potential, and creates significant public value. This description is the organization's vision of success. Typically, this vision of success is more important as a guide to implementing strategy than it is to formulating it. For that reason the step is listed as optional in Figure 2.1, and it comes after strategy and plan review and adoption. However, Figure 2.1 also indicates that underthe right circumstances, visioning might occur at many places in the strategic planning process (see also Figure 2.4). Although many—perhaps most—public and nonprofit organizations have developed clear and useful mission statements in recent years, fewer have a clear, succinct, and useful vision of success. Part of the reason for this is that a vision, even though it includes mission, goes wellbeyond mission. A mission outlines the organizational purpose, whereas a vision goes on to describe how the organization should look when it is working extremely well in relation to its environment and key stakeholders. Developing this description is more time consuming than formulating a mission statement (Senge, 1990; Angelica, 2001). It is also more difficult, particularly because mostorganizations are coalitional (Pfeffer, 1992; Bolman and Deal, 2003), and thus the vision must usually be a treaty negotiated among rival coalitions.
Establishing an Effective Organizational Vision
Other difficulties may hamper construction of a vision of success. People are often afraid of how others will respond to their vision. Professionals are highly vested in their jobs, and tohave one's vision of excellent organizational performance criticized or rejected can be trying. People may also be afraid of that part of themselves that can envision and pursue excellence. First of all, they can be disappointed in their pursuit, which can be painful. Their own competence can be called into question. And second, being true to the vision can be a very demanding discipline, hard workthat they may not be willing to shoulder all the time. Key decision makers must be courageous in order to construct a compelling vision of success. They must envision and listen to their best selves in order to envision success for the organization as a whole. And they must be disciplined enough to affirm the vision in the present, to work hard to make the vision real in the here and now (Collinsand Porras, 1997; Terry 1993, 2001). It may not be possible, therefore, to create an effective and compelling vision of success for the organization. The good news, however, is that although a vision of success may be very helpful, it may not be necessary in order to improve organizational performance. Agreement on strategy is more important than agreement on vision or goals (Bourgeois, 1980;Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, and Lampel, 1998). Simply finding a way to frame and deal with a few of the strategic issues the organization faces often markedly improves organizational effectiveness.
Even though it may not be necessary to have a vision of success in order to improve organizational effectiveness, it is hard to imagine a truly high-performing organization that does not haveat least an implicit and widely shared conception of what success looks like and how it might be achieved (see, for example, Knauft, Berger, and Gray, 1991; Collins and Porras, 1997; Rainey and Steinbauer, 1999). Indeed, it is hard to imagine an organization surviving in the long run without some sort of vision to inspire it—hence the merit of filmmaker Federico Fellini's comment, "The...