"Vision" can easily become a buzz word that is thrown around in an attempt to motivate and inspire a board and team:
"I have vision for our organization..."
"We have great vision for what we want to accomplish..."
Here's the thing: If the vision is not clearly mapped out for the team and board to use as a navigation tool for where the organization is going... it will become a vague concept. The board and team will soon be shrugging their shoulders and asking, "What does the vision have to do with what we are doing today?"
"To cast vision" is to write out the directions that will guide your organization to it's ideal future.
Although the road may not already be paved, the CEO is the one who says, "I can see the way to where we need to be! Here is what our destination looks like and here are the steps we will need to take to get ourselves there."
Here's what happens when the vision is vague and there is no clear map toward's the future:
- The motivation of team, board and staff slowly deflates until the general consensus becomes, "What I am doing here and why does it matter?"
- Donors become distracted by the vision of other organizations and chose to invest in a mission whose future looks well thought out.
- The leader takes the organization around and around circles - trying to find it's way to a "better place" and ultimately, getting no where.
Here's what you can do create a vision that will help navigate your Non-Profit towards its future:
1. Create some space for you, as the CEO, to dream about the future. Remember, your job is not to simply keep the organization afloat. It is your responsible to look for ways to propel your organization towards greater achievements.
2. Sit down with the board and team and ask this question, "What do you believe is the future of this organization and how do you think we will get there?" Sit back and listen closely. Do the answers of the team and board match the same vision you are trying to cast?
3. Hire an outside consultant to help turn the vision into a map that can be clearly communicated to the team, board, and donors. This is a worthy investment. If you are need of an outside consultant, please feel free to contact me. I would love to help you create a vision that will help map out future for your organization:
In the wise words of the awesome, Helen Keller, "It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision."
The mission of your organization is depended not only your ability to see what is needed for today, but on your ability to have a clear vision of the future.
You got this.
Todd Polyniak is a partner at SAX and is an expert in Not-For-Profit financial health for over 30 years.