Get the vision right

According to John Kotter, leading author and change expert, creating the right vision guides action in all stages of change that you lead successfully. In his book, The Heart of Change, he tells what works and what doesn’t work with getting the vision right:



  • Trying to see–literally–possible futures
  • Visions that are so clear they can be articulated in one minute or written up on one page
  • Visions that are moving- such as a commitment to educating students and changing lives
  • Strategies that are bold enough to make bold visions a reality


  • Assuming that linear or logical plans and budgets alone adequately guide behavior
  • Overly analytic, financially-based vision exercises
  • Visions of slashing costs,, which can be emotionally depressing and anxiety creating
  • Giving people 54 logical reasons why they need to create strategies that are bolder than they have ever created before

Kotter explains that a vision has to be both compelling and have a strong emotional component in order to inspire people to action.

To zero in on that emotional component, here’s an exercise that might help: Think about what energizes you about higher education. What makes you come into work each day and strive to make a difference for  your college, university, its employees and its students? Can you translate that into emotions or pictures of the future that would help you create a compelling vision? What does that future look like, taste like, smell like, and feel like? Get specific.

What have you found that works well in getting the vision right?

Anita Rios


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