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5 Steps to Execute Courageous Vision…When You’re Stuck

Many leaders are gifted visionaries. You can picture a preferred future. You know where the organization needs to go. You see a healthier, more impactful way to help others and you have the passion to bring it to fruition…but you’re stuck.

Maybe you want to welcome refugees to Canada with transitional housing, linked with programs, granting them a solid foundation, but you don’t know what do to next. Or you want to assist students from the local high school to graduate and succeed, by substantially decreasing the drop-out rate…but you’re uncertain of the route.

  • Maybe you’re stuck because you don’t know how to map out the process.
  • Maybe you’re stuck because you don’t know how to resource your project.
  • Maybe you’re stuck because you’re unsure how to utilize the team surrounding you.

Here are 5 steps for executing courageous vision.

  • Start with the End in Mind

Write out what the preferred future for your organization looks like or if you’re more artistic, draw it. Ensure that the vison is clear…you can both envision and articulate it. Maybe it’s a new program, or a new facility or a satellite location or a new department. Maybe you picture a healthier community because there are increased employment opportunities or because emergency room patients have thorough follow-up. Knowing why you want to accomplish that preferred future is critical. Think about who will be helped, how people will be impacted, and the ways lives will be bettered. Start with the end in mind.

  • Create a Milestone Timeline

Draw out a timeline from the completed vision and work back to today. Brainstorm milestones that need to be achieved to make that vision a reality. If you’re building a new facility, milestones can include purchasing land, securing funding, determining space requirements, a cost analysis, fundraising, hiring an architect and construction firm etc. If you’re starting a new program, your milestones may include stakeholder engagement, data analysis, fundraising (a common theme in the non-profit world), training, marketing, hiring staff etc. Place the milestones on the timeline to begin to establish deadlines.

  • Identify Obstacles to Overcome

Invariably, there are numerous obstacles to any vision. Brainstorm a list of obstacles you may encounter during your project. Some obstacles are substantial enough to derail an entire project while others are an inconvenient nuisance. Obstacles can include NIMBY (not in my back yard), apathy from the board of governors, cost increases, a change in government, funding shortage, employee dissatisfaction or even project fatigue. You want to simultaneously identify the obstacles and determine a course of action to overcome each one.

  • Establish a Work Plan

A work plan or project management tool is critical to the success of your vision. You want to establish the goal, activity, measurement, and champion for both your overall vision as well as for each component of the vision. Examine each milestone and obstacle you’ve positioned on the timeline to determine the best course of action and whose responsibility it is. Some organizations excel in strategic planning but then fail to initiate the plan. The plan collects virtual dust. Three years later they engage in another strategic planning process, frustrated that the previous one never materialized. A work plan guiding the vision is necessary for its success.

  • Maximize Board and Team Engagement

Healthy board and team engagement is essential to achieving the vision. They are your greatest asset. Their input is needed early in the process, ensuring their active involvement.  At times, organizations have the necessary skills, within their board and team, to bring the vision to fruition, but other times outside assistance is required. Performing a skills inventory of your board and team will help you determine how each of them can best engage in the vision process. Identifying the gaps will allow you to either determine the necessary training to equip your board and team or if you need to hire someone with the skillset to guide you in the visioning process. If your board and team are at capacity, external support will be vital. Your board and team are your greatest asset.

Many leaders are gifted visionaries, who picture a preferred future. If that’s you, but you’re immobilized and can’t realize your vision, these steps should help you identify areas where you excel and where the assistance of a consultant will be valuable. Relying more heavily on your board members or staff, by using their giftedness, may achieve the vision, but if there are still gaps, bring in the necessary expertise to realize what you envisioned and positively impact numerous lives in your community.

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