How to create a shared vision for changes - The Power of visualisation

In change initiatives one key success factor is to create a shared view on what the future will look like. Visualising of the envisioned target state is a powerful method for guiding the change team on their way through the change.

by Reto Zumbühl

In this article, I will share my experiences with visualising change visions to support the change process for organisations and teams.

Why are visualisations important?

First and foremost, the visualisation of the envisioned target state creates a shared and joint understanding of the future among the change or leadership team members. With this approach, the change vision directly gets anchored in the change team’s minds.

In addition, a shared view on the targeted future state enables organisations to think about what exactly needs to be changed and how the change process could be shaped.

"The visualisation of the envisioned target state creates a shared and joint understanding of the future among the change or leadership team members."

Visualising the envisioned target state with pictures and drawings makes the future tangible. It inspires people and makes them engaged in the change process. Especially the younger generation searches for the meaning in change initiatives. Pictures and drawings help to understand what the future will bring and why it is important to go for the change.

Where can visualised visions be used?

Regardless if you are starting an agile transformation, an optimisation of a business process or if you are in the middle of a digital transformation, a visualised view on the envisioned target state is a key success factor for making the change happen. This approach has turned out to be especially effective and successful in business transformations where the targeted state was new to the organisation.

How do we use visualisations in the vision creation process?

Visual recording of the target state in interviews

In my consultancy work at ERNI, I use visualisations in various stages of change initiatives. I start using this method already while doing interviews with the change teams or stakeholders. By capturing the ideas of the envisioned future state in drawings, the future starts getting its first rough shape already during the interviews. By using the pictures to reflect the ideas with the interviewee we start creating a tangible view on the future state and in addition, we eliminate potential misunderstandings at a very early stage.

Vision Workshops

Visualising the target state is an extremely powerful approach during vision workshops with smaller or larger teams. At ERNI we usually start drawing a straw-man picture of the envisioned target state that is based on the results of the conducted interviews. This straw-man serves as a discussion basis to further shape the future state. In follow-up workshops these straw-man vision charts evolve into wooden-man vision pictures. At this stage, pilot implementations of the new processes, structures, methods, tools etc. can usually be initiated since the vision is mature enough to be applied in practice.

Communication of the vision – Storytelling

Shared visions that result from vision workshops usually also serve to communicate the vision to a broader audience and to stakeholders, who were not part of the vision development process. A picture, drawing, chart etc. enables the change team to tell the story behind the vision and maybe also some nice anecdote about the development of the vision. This will bring the audience closer to the vision and let them feel like a part of the change journey.

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