One of the most effective tools that I have used in trying to align differing visions is what I loosely call a white paper.  I don’t mean the term as it is usually used (a formal, official report on a specific topic), rather various parties writing a 1-2 page description of “what it would look like” if things were to be different.

It is easy to say: “I wish there was more collaboration”, but it’s another thing all together to describe how the organization would function if that were the case.  People can complain that: “I wish our programs were different”, but it is much harder to put on one page what the environment would be like if changes were made.  People can say: “I wish there were more things going on here”, but until they can describe what ‘more’ looks like, a common vision will be illusive.

It’s important to note that I said “describe” rather than list.  You’re not seeking a list of activities, rather you are asking the writer to paint a picture of how things would be if their vision was realized.

By asking participants to do a paper, it forces them not only to think, but, more importantly to clarify what they really mean.  Papers can be shared as a conversation-starter — it brings the differing visions to life, often helps others understand or see the benefits from a change and allows people to find points of agreement instead of just variances.

Do you have something you’d like to see changed or a new way for your organization to “be”?  Try describing it in a page and see if it doesn’t help you gain clarity.  A fuzzy vision is hard to see, and even harder to bring to life.

— beth triplett

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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