Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's all about vision

I had to make an uncomfortable confession as day 2 of the Community-Driven Institute immersion course came to a close yesterday.

I've know that nonprofits should have a vision statement, I've understood intellectually why they needed it, but my zest for making the most of limited teaching and consulting time has usually led to plowing over vision to get to the fun "mission-driven" stuff.

I've long understood intellectually the need for identifying a vision. But yesterday, I got it - in my gut and my heart, as well as my brain.

Vision is about community change. It's about stretching higher and higher, until we identify our highest potential as catalysts for that change. It's about what is possible if we are successful. It's about a better world if we're successful.

If we don't start with the vision, if we don't have a strong grasp of the vision, our full potential will never truly be 'full.'

The 'aha' moment for me came as my peers and I took turns practicing vision discussion, as facilitators and as participants. When we truly focused on identifying a compelling vision, on the highest possibility, we were excited. We were energized. We were overcome by the change that we were seeing.

I've been involved with pretty satisfying mission discussions over the last 26 years. I've led many of those discussions. But I've never truly felt the kind of palpable excitement that those brief experiences yesterday created. The difference between those experiences and yesterday ultimately is where the work was focused.

As I write this post, I'm heading to day three, where my journey of understanding (and the massive conceptual shift that it is creating) continues. I'm still processing what this means, for me and for the organizations that I will support in the future. Some of that processing will undoubtedly occur in future posts here.

In the meantime, I'll share a favorite resource that does the best job I've seen of describing mission, vision and values statements. Coincidentally - or not - this longtime favorite comes from the Community-Driven Institute. Click here to access this article.

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