Shared Vision

By Martin Gilliard

A shared vision is a view of some future state that is agreed upon and shared by others. It is useful when managing change and when you have people who are initially resistant to change.

It can also be described as a shared mental model of a future state of a product, process, group or organization or a shared cognitive image of some ideal future state. Fortune magazine suggests that it is the most important leadership idea that came about in the twentieth century.

shared vision

(Photo Credit: Cliff)


Craig Pearce and Michael Ensley define shared vision as :

”a common mental model of the future state of the team or its tasks that provides the basis for action within the team.”

The vision should generate excitement, which in turn will encourage involvement. It should be clear and concise enough for people to be able to effectively communicate the vision to others.

In particular the vision should make it clear on how the organization will improve as a result of its implementation. If possible use tangible measurements to convey this point. For example, implementing will result in increased sales, profit, return on investment, larger bonuses, opportunities for advancement, etc.

Make it clear in the vision how the implementation of it will be of benefit to those involved. For example it may result in safer working conditions, more interesting work, less effort on a particular task enabling more time to focus on other more interesting work projects, etc.

To make it shared is the responsibility of the managers. They must communicate it throughout the organization. Doing so should make it clear to all why the change is important.

More and more so it is teams who are responsible for developing innovation and for this reason having a vision which all are agreeable on is increasingly important. This importance was proven by Craig Pearce and Michael Ensley in the research that they undertook in 2004…

” Innovation effectiveness was positively, reciprocally, and significantly related to shared vision. Thus, the perception of innovation effectiveness appears to have a facilitative effect on teams that are responsible for delivering product and process innovations and this effect appears to carry through to future success in the innovation process.”

To have others share your vision it is important to listen to the people you are sharing it with – try and make sure that it includes some of their aspirations, hopes and ideas for the future and to do this you have to ask questions and listen very carefully to the answers that you get back before formulating the vision. 



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