Introduction

What is a Vision of Success?

A Vision of Success is a short and specific description, in a few sentences, of the sustainable future that you wish to see realized. A future in which a social actor does or experiences something differently than before, and in a sustainable manner. A change moreover, to which your organisation can meaningfully contribute, working alongside others.

Your Vision of Success thus represents the heart of your organisation: the statement seeks to inspire those with whom you engage and shows what you are fighting for. It should answer the question Why you do the things you do? It is grounded in a thorough situation analysis of the issue you intend to address; the context in which you operate.

The vision must be:

  • Plausible – focus on a change that your organisation can realistically contribute to in a 10-15 years’ timeframe. It should not point to a vague, idealized situation that is unachievable.
  • Systemic – reflect the complex and dynamic system in which people and institutions are working effectively in relationships with each other to realize the desired change.
  • Actor-based – state clearly who is supposed to be benefitting from the change. Moreover, the description should describe who is doing something differently than before, resulting in the realization of the desired change.

Illustrations

Girls and young women in Malawi are better able to make their own choices in life, because the Malawian government prevents abuses and protects the rights of the girl child through the implementation of an appropriate legal framework; and because sexual and reproductive health service provision is responsive to the needs of young people, in particular girls and young women.

Media and journalists, as independent players in civil society, constitute a diverse and professional media landscape and function as change catalysts, because an enabling environment for the media is established, because media serve the interests of the public and act as a watchdog on their behalf, and because journalists and media actors work professionally.

Tools

Visioning is a guided process that can be used to assist groups of stakeholders in developing a shared direction for the future. Several creative tools are available to help you brainstorm what you want the world to look like in 5-10 years from now, when the focal problem has been effectively dealt with. Such exercises help to generate a common goal, and very likely to spur a sense of collective engagement and lots of energy.

Most visioning tools listed below (Epitaph, Helicopter, Award Ceremony, Magazine Cover) build on existing situation analyses and primarily look at the future. Other tools (Rich Picture), may be used more elaborately by first developing a creative representation of the current state of affairs together and taking that as a starting point for the subsequent vision drawing exercise.

* The Social Transformation Project.

* Multi-Stakeholder Processes Knowledge Co-Creation Portal on Visioning.

 

More information

The Epitaph

* Keystone, page 8 of Developing a theory of change.

The Rich Picture

* Free Press Unlimited (2017). ToC manual: Tools section.

* Oakden, J. (2014). If a picture paints a thousand words: The use of rich pictures in evaluation. Kinnect Group. Available here.

* Multi-Stakeholder Processes Knowledge Co-Creation Portal. Available here.

Crafting a Vision of Success Statement

* A.A. Anderson (2006) The Community Builder’s Approach to Theory of Change: A Practical Guide to Theory Development, Aspen Institute. Available here.