Vision: The End Is Always First

          To effectively guide your organization, leadership needs to have a clear and concise vision on where they want the organization to end up within a specific time frame.  As difficult as this may appear, one needs to envision the final outcome before a path to success can begin.  

        Success for not-for-profit entities may appear to be ambiguous at times. For not-for-profits involved with human services, success is defined as serving more individuals in need at a higher level of care. Even if the care currently being provided is of high quality, there is always room to redefine quality care and set a new standard.

    A plan to fulfill the vision of an organization needs to be very specific and simultaneously flexible enough to succeed when both unanticipated obstacles and opportunities arise (and they will); much like a football team’s plays have a predetermined goal which they are designed to fulfill. At times the plays run flawlessly, at other times they achieve more yardage than anticipated, and at other times obstacles stand in the way of success.

     The vision of an organization begins with the Board of Directors all being in agreement on where an organization is headed. The vision and the direction of an organization are about focusing on the people who are served. This should always be at the forefront of all decisions and planning. At times this objective may unintentionally get lost in the plan. Asking the simple question, “How will this affect the people we serve?” will bring everything back into focus.  

       Establishing a plan and vision for an organization should be a time of excitement.  At the beginning of a discussion on the plan for an organization, people do not have to agree on the final outcome or the path in which to fulfill the outcome. It is actually a healthy process not to agree. Differences of opinion are good for an organization. People with differing opinions are doing nothing more than looking at the same situation from a different vantage point. When discussed correctly, these differing vantage points will lead to an optimum vision and plan. A plan that is collectively discussed and agreed upon is a far more effective plan than one that is decided upon by a single individual. In the end, all parties will need to be in agreement on the direction of an organization.

   To effectively fulfill a vision, all of those involved within the organization need to know and understand the vision, the path chosen to achieve this vision, and the part each person has in the organization’s objectives. The culture within an organization needs to be such that confidence is instilled in each person. This confidence will ultimately lead to each person taking ownership of their responsibilities.  Members of leadership who express appreciation to all those involved in fulfilling the vision also contribute to people taking ownership of their responsibilities. When people take personal ownership of their position within an organization, the path to success and fulfilling the vision becomes much easier.

      Nothing ever remains constant. Everything keeps moving and changing, and many of the changes come from outside of an organization. An organization needs to have a clear vision of where they want to go and a plan to arrive at the destination. The path will need to be flexible enough to allow them the ability to adjust to these ever changing conditions in which they operate.