What is Strategic Visioning?

This page explains the theory of strategic visioning as commonly used by business and organizational consultants. For an in-depth look at IUP’s Strategic Visioning Project, visit the About the Project page

The Strategic Visioning Process

The strategic visioning process has many names and tools, but its goals are relatively few: to define an organization’s purpose and how it will accomplish it over a period of several years. In order to figure out where an organization is going, strategic visioning requires members of the group to understand the organization’s past, its current position, and possible directions it could take in the future.

Generally, strategic visioning deals with key questions like “what does our organization do?” and “how do we excel among similar organizations?” These questions can be asked of constituents such as management/administrators, employees and clients. The answers determine the vision, mission, values and strategies that the organization will adopt over a period of 3-5 years.

Key components of strategic visions include a group’s vision, mission, values and strategies.

Vision and mission statements are commonly confused. A vision is a description of what an organization hopes to be in the future; the mission statement is applicable in the present as well as the future, so it serves as the means of attaining the vision statement.  An example of a vision statement for a non-profit could be “A World Without Homelessness” whereas its mission statement could be “to provide assistance and job placement for the homeless and unemployed.”

Values are core beliefs and strengths of an organization shared among all the constituents of the group. They drive the culture of the group and provide the framework used to make key decisions. An organization that names integrity and loyalty as key values will make decisions in a different way than an organization that names global citizenship and environmental sustainability.

An organization’s strategy is a combination of its desired end goals (the vision) and the policies that it will enact to reach the goals. A well-crafted mission, vision and values statement can  steer an organization toward systemic policies and changes that will help its vision become reality.

But for all of these things to be truly effective, they must be integrated into an organization’s culture–they cannot remain standalone pieces of text tucked away on a webpage or brochure. These key components must be evaluated and assessed from time to time, both from the inside members’ perspective and the outside public’s perspective. Discrepancies between what is felt internally and what is learned by listening to external people can help determine what an organization’s new strategies ought to be.

The 2013 IUP Strategic Visioning Project’s goal is to use the process outlined above to listen to what internal and external community members have to say about the present and future state of IUP in order to develop a strategic vision that will guide the university for the next five years.

For more information on how strategic visioning works, visit the following websites:

Written by Emily Weber

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