Building and Sustaining Alliances Part 1: Vision and Goals


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Create effective vision statements and correlating goals.

A vision statement is a brief outline of the ideal future; goals are a measurable blueprint for action. A vision statement is the destination; goals are the roadmap. When designing these items, it is important to focus on the future of your organization and it is important for all alliance members to come to a consensus. Follow the steps of building a vision statement and goal and hone your group facilitation skills to ease the process.

Learn techniques to build an effective vision statement and goals.

By the end of this lesson you will be able to:

  • Recall the steps for building a vision statement and goals;
  • Apply strategies for effectively creating a vision statement and goals; and
  • Apply strategies for effective group facilitation.End of text

The Anatomy of a Vision and Goals

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Learn to identify the anatomy of a vision statement.

A vision shows an outcome; it is your alliance’s destination. The anatomy of a vision statement has four main parts, including:

  • An ideal future
  • Who you want to impact
  • A timeless end result
  • Inspirational framework for planning

An example of a vision statement is this: “Kentucky’s Service members and Families will have local access to exceptional behavioral health care.” Each of the four elements of a vision statement is included. This organization will impact “Kentucky’s Service members and Families.” The timeless end result is that they “will have local access,” and the inspirational framework for planning is “exceptional behavioral health care.” The entire vision statement depicts an ideal future.

Anatomy of a vision statement

Learn to identify the anatomy of a goal.

Once the vision statement is written, then the goals can be constructed. The goals show a pathway for arriving at the vision. The anatomy of a goal has three main parts:

  • Blueprint for action
  • Measurable and observable
  • Linked to vision

In order for the goals to be effective, each must be observable and measurable; they must have indicators of success built in that provide an explicit link between action and the vision. Overall, goals are a blueprint for action, telling the members of the alliance how they are going to get to the point of achieving their goals.

One example of a goal is: “Train 1,200 behavioral health providers on military culture and military-specific behavioral health issues.” The blueprint for action is indicated by the word “Train.” This is one specific action that must take place in order to reach the vision. The phrase “1,200 behavioral health providers” indicates that this goal is both measureable and observable; and, “military culture and military-specific behavioral health issues” links the goal directly back to the vision (as shown in the anatomy of a vision statement).

Anatomy of a goalEnd of text

Step 1: Generate

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Generate your vision statement and goals.

Generating ideas is a process that should involve everyone. Its purpose is to create a list of ideas, words, and phrases that will form the basis for your vision statement or goals. Participants should prepare before the main session, arriving with ideas to build on; then, each can share their ideas with the group. Individual work may complement or boost the process of brainstorming, but all ideas should end up in the same physical space. Idea generation works best when there is interaction between participants. During the session, allow a leader to emerge—someone who is skilled at group facilitation and knowledgeable about your alliance and other related topics. The leader can guide the process. Debate and critique are important parts of the process, but should be saved for the next step, refining. Focus on generating as many ideas as possible to give the group plenty of concepts with which to work.

Use tools and techniques to enhance the idea-generating process.

When working as a group, it is important to set up times when everyone is available and in the same location, however, this is not always feasible. There are tools available for both in-person sessions and remote sessions.

For an in-person session, when everyone is present and in the same room, consider using some of the following:

  • Flip charts
  • Sticky notes and 3x5 cards
  • Vision exercises
    • Describe the ideal end state
    • How would this be written about in a press release or newspaper?
  • Goal exercises
    • Steps necessary to achieve the vision
    • How would these be best described during their implementation

When working remotely, there are other tools available to facilitate a successful brainstorming session. Try using some of the following:

  • Web-Ex: this program allows you to display word documents and use white boards
  • Individual brainstorming sessions prior to the meeting
  • Ideas complied and displayed visually, for example, a word cloud
  • Video conferencingEnd of text

Step 2: Refining Your Ideas

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Put the pieces together.

When working on a vision statement, begin by reviewing its purpose and various components. Then place the various ideas, generated in the previous step, next to each other and begin to compare. The leader should facilitate an amiable discussion that allows each person to voice their thoughts and ideas. Debate and critique are an important part of the process, and should be used to determine the importance of each idea, and in turn decide if it should be incorporated into the vision statement.

Building the goals is very similar, but it starts with the vision. Knowing the vision will help determine what steps are necessary to be successful. During the debate and critique of the ideas generated for goals, it is the leader’s job to make sure that each item that is chosen links back to the vision.

Refine ideas through prioritizing.

It is important to understand that not all of the ideas presented during the generating step are equally important. During the refining stage, try to prioritize which ideas are more or less important. Before beginning the process, review the purpose and components of the vision or goal. Then, the leader should be ready to facilitate, debate, and critique the ideas. Remember, if there is little or no discussion in this process, it is unlikely that the participants are invested.

When prioritizing, try using the Pareto or the Bubble Up method. The Pareto principle states that for many events, roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the work; and the concept applies in many areas in life. When refining a vision or goals, remember that out of all the ideas your alliance has generated, only about 20% of them truly represent your vision or goal. To implement this as a prioritizing method, give each participant 2-3 votes (represented by sticky notes or stickers). Then, each individual can take their vote and place it next to the three ideas that they think are most important. An individual may choose to use all of their votes on the same idea if they believe that idea is the most important.

The Bubble Up method is a collaborative process that can take quite a bit of time. Each idea should be written on index cards, which are then laid out in a list. Each idea is moved up the list until either everything listed above the item is more important or everything below the item is less important.End of text

Step 3: Wordsmithing

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Wordsmith your vision and goals.

The purpose of wordsmithing is to create the final vision or goal and achieve consensus among the alliance members. All must agree that the vision represents the ideal end state and that the goals represent an ideal blueprint for action. Here are some tips for successful wordsmithing:

  • Take your time to ensure that everyone is in agreement: achieving consensus is the most important part.
  • Take steps to ensure that there are opportunities for equal participation.
  • Think about the words: use a thesaurus, debate over specific verbiage. Take time to identify a precise meaning.
  • Test the vision and goal on fresh ears to see if the intended message is received.

Wordsmith your vision and goals remotely or in-person.

You can wordsmith your vision and goals as a group remotely or in-person. If you are conducting remote sessions, this may require more than one meeting. In the first meeting, come to an agreement on the vision and goal. Then, step back for a week to process and think about the vision and goal and come back together to review. When conducting an in-person session, come to an agreement on the vision and goals, take a break over lunch or overnight, and then come back together to review. If other alliances are present, use a debriefing session to share your vision and gain others’ perspectives.End of text

Facilitation Skills

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Hone facilitation skills to improve group cohesion and increase the effectiveness of your vision and goals.

The leadership role is quite different from the participant role. The leader has a responsibility to the members to provide a safe and supportive atmosphere. An effective group leader communicates respect to all group members, has a clear understanding of the goals of the group, is aware of the needs of the group members, and is attuned to the cohesiveness of the group. A group facilitator models the behaviors expected from group members by being respectful to all and avoiding the pitfalls of dominating the group.

A strong leader also manages the group and allows every member to participate. Allowing equal participation among members is important so that all ideas and suggestions are heard, and so that every organization has an equal share in creating the vision and goals. In addition, reflective listening will help draw out ideas and potentially create new ideas. We all want to be listened to, heard, and understood—to feel that others are sincerely interested in what we are saying. To listen reflectively means to clarify what the individual is saying, demonstrate an interest, and encourage sharing. Strong group facilitation will help bring the group together to more effectively develop your vision and goals.End of text


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Creating effective vision statements and goals is crucial to the success of the alliance.

Now that you have completed this lesson you will be able to:

  • Recall the steps for building a vision statement and goals;
  • Apply strategies for effectively creating a vision statement and goals; and
  • Apply strategies for effective group facilitation.End of text

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