Monthly Archives: March 2014

Taking a road trip

Articulating a compelling vision can be challenging if people don’t agree about what it means to create a vision.  How does a vision differ from a mission statement?  Where do values fit in? What should I say about detailed goals?

road trip free to useThe folks at Authenticity Consulting have proposed a simple analogy that can help get everyone on the same page. The chart below is adapted from their materials comparing the change planning process to a family road trip. I’ve found it to be useful when working with project teams.

Strategic Change Planning

Road Trip Planning

Vacation Examples

Work Examples

Mission Why we are traveling Relaxation, strengthening family ties, educational experiences Develop a new-hire orientation for the MnSCU system
Vision Where we want to end up and what we will be doing at our ultimate destination Participate in Aunt Carol’s wedding, explore the Appalachian trail, camping at Yellowstone New hires understand how their role fits into the big picture
Values Priorities for how we will carry out the trip Have fun, meet new people, make sure everyone gets to do one thing from their “bucket list” New hires see themselves as part of a system, not just employees of one institution
Goals Major steps along the way Overnight stop in St. Louis Content drafted by June 1, Board approval in August
External factors Influencers that we cannot control Weather, road conditions When and where new staff members are hired
Internal factors Influencers that we can control Requesting vacation time approval, using licensed drivers, car tune-up Content of orientation program, delivery methods

Like any road trip, it’s helpful to remember that a vision is not cast in stone. Yesterday morning I was discussing this issue with our talent management steering committee.  People said that they can struggle with creating a vision because they don’t yet know what the future will be, or they don’t have specific details.  It’s true that a vision comes early in the process and within higher education that means there is a lot more consulting to be done!

It helps to think of a vision as describing where we want to end up.  It should get people excited and working to move things forward.  Discussing the pros and cons of driving versus flying, deciding how many stops to make along the way, and scheduling how long the trip will be can come later.

–Dee Anne Bonebright

What inspires you?

This should not have been so hard to figure out but, one thing I know for sure after working with leaders and work teams for over 25 years is that we are all different! What inspires one member of your team may irritate another. What motivates you to embrace a change may cause someone else to put their head down and “just wait it out.” Innovation_Inspiration_600_400_70_c1_center_center_0_0_1In fact, a 2009 article by Scott Keller and Carolyn Aiken, The Inconvenient Truth About Change Management, identifies five different messages, each one that motivates or inspires a separate group of people at work. The five messages differ based on how they focus on one of the following impacts – Impact on:

  1. Society
  2. Our customers or students
  3. Our institution
  4. Our work team
  5. “Me”, the person

People are about equally divided between the five separate motivational impacts. Thus, when you articulate a vision of a future state based on what you find compelling or motivating you are probably missing what is important to about 80% of the people on your team!

The authors recommend the following strategies to help you, as a leader, create a compelling vision of the future:

  • Include each of the five core motivational messages in your vision.
    1. Society
    2. Our customers or students
    3. Our institution
    4. Our work team
    5. “Me”, the person
  • Invite your people to write their own vision or story of the future – and spend time listening to them share it!
    1. People are more committed when they can choose their own motivation
    2. People value being listened to and understood


  • Include both the solutions to problems and the new opportunities in your vision statement.
    1. Problems help create action but create fatigue over time
    2. Opportunities help sustain change but on their own may not promote transformational ideas

Broadening your view of the change horizon and asking others what they see in the future will help you articulate a vision for the future that is more compelling and engages more of your people.

Todd Thorsgaard

Making the future visible

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

–Jonathan Swift

vision binoculars

During the next month, we will be exploring ideas, resources, and tools to help leaders with another element of leading change: articulating a vision for the future. Without a clear and compelling vision, it can be impossible to mobilize people to implement needed change. For example, if people don’t know what they are moving toward, it can be hard to build buy-in for change or engagement during the change effort.

When you have made the future visible by articulating a vision, what challenges have you faced? What successes have you experienced? What strategies have worked well for you?

Anita Rios