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Prepare for Impactful Vision & Strategy Sessions

A well-crafted strategy is crucial for translating that vision into actionable steps that drive growth, innovation, and competitive advantage.


Essential Preparations for Impactful Vision and Strategy Sessions

Organizations must have a clear and compelling vision to guide their long-term success. A well-crafted strategy is crucial for translating that vision into actionable steps that drive growth, innovation, and competitive advantage. However, the foundation for these critical organizational elements must be laid long before the actual vision or strategy session takes place.

This article delves into the essential preparatory steps that organizations should undertake to ensure their vision and strategy sessions are productive, insightful, and aligned with the changing needs of their stakeholders.

1. Assemble a Core Team of Committed Leaders

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The first and perhaps most crucial step in preparing for a vision or strategy session is to select a core team of leaders who possess the necessary commitment, intelligence, and authority to shape the organization's future. This team should be composed of individuals who not only have a deep understanding of the business but also the ability to make critical decisions that will impact the entire organization.

The core team should be empowered to drive the preparatory process, gather insights, and ultimately guide the vision and strategy discussions. By involving key decision-makers from the outset, organizations can ensure that the outcomes of the sessions are aligned with the organization's overall objectives and have the necessary buy-in from the leadership.

2. Cultivate Deep Listening and Sensing Practices

Once the core team is in place, the next step is to train them in deep listening and sensing practices. These practices are essential for gathering a comprehensive understanding of the organization's current state, its stakeholders, and the broader industry landscape.

Deep Listening & Sensing Practices:

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- Engage in active listening sessions with employees at all levels, customers, end-users, vendors, and other key stakeholders. Seek to understand their perspectives, pain points, and aspirations.

- Conduct one-on-one interviews and focus group discussions to delve deeper into the experiences and insights of these stakeholders.

- Pay close attention to the nuances of the conversations, the unspoken narratives, and the underlying emotions that may not be explicitly expressed.

- Embark on learning journeys to directly observe the world of end-users and other marginalized players within the ecosystem.

- Venture beyond the traditional industry boundaries and explore how your organization's offerings and services intersect with other industries.

- Identify and study the emerging trends, disruptive technologies, and shifting consumer behaviors that are shaping the industry landscape.

- Engage in stakeholder interviews to uncover their expectations, concerns, and aspirations regarding the organization, its industry, and the future.

By cultivating these deep listening and sensing practices, the core team can develop a multifaceted understanding of the organization's current reality, the evolving needs and expectations of its stakeholders, and the broader industry dynamics that may impact its future.

3. Synthesize Learnings into a 3D Model of the Current State

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With a wealth of data points and insights gathered through the deep listening and sensing exercises, the next step is to map and synthesize these learnings into a comprehensive 3D model of the organization's current state. This multidimensional representation should capture the various facets of the organization, including its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and limitations, as well as the interconnected relationships between its internal and external stakeholders.

The 3D model should provide a holistic and experiential understanding of the organization's current reality, allowing the core team to collectively reflect on the complexities and nuances that may have been previously overlooked or misunderstood. By creating this immersive visual representation, the team can better identify the critical leverage points, the areas of stagnation, and the emerging possibilities that will inform the subsequent vision and strategy discussions.

4. Reflect on the Current Reality and Envision the Desired Future

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With the 3D model of the current state as a foundation, the core team should engage in a deep reflective process to collectively explore the multiple dimensions of the organization's reality. This exercise should involve a thoughtful examination of the organization's strengths, areas of stagnation, untapped potential, and the impact on its various stakeholders.

Through this reflective process, the team can gain a deeper understanding of the underlying dynamics that shape the organization's current trajectory and identify the key areas that require transformation or strategic intervention.

Building upon this comprehensive understanding of the present, the core team can then shift their focus to envisioning the desired future state of the organization. Using the 3D model as a starting point, the team should collaboratively create a new model that depicts the organization's aspirational future, taking into account the evolving needs and expectations of its stakeholders, the emerging trends in the industry, and the organization's unique capabilities and competitive advantages.

This visioning exercise should not be limited to the organization's internal operations but should also consider the broader ecosystem in which it operates, including the relationships with customers, suppliers, partners, and even potential disruptors.

5. Iterate and Engage the Extended Core Team

Depending on the size and complexity of the organization, the core team may choose to repeat the preparatory process with an extended core team, which could include key leaders and subject matter experts from various functional areas or business units.

By engaging the extended core team in the preparatory activities, the organization can ensure that the vision and strategy discussions are informed by a diverse range of perspectives and expertise. This iterative process also helps to build a shared understanding and alignment among the organization's leadership, laying the groundwork for more effective and impactful strategy sessions.

6. Leverage Insights to Inform the Vision and Strategy Sessions

The insights and learnings gathered through the preparatory process should serve as the foundation for the organization's vision and strategy sessions. The 3D models of the current state and the desired future state, along with the team's collective reflections, should be used to guide the discussions and shape the strategic decisions.

During the vision and strategy sessions, the core team can leverage the preparatory work to:

- Facilitate meaningful dialogues and debates around the organization's purpose, values, and long-term aspirations.

- Identify the critical strategic priorities and initiatives that will drive the organization towards its envisioned future.

- Develop detailed action plans, timelines, and resource allocations to ensure the successful implementation of the strategy.

- Align the organization's leadership, processes, and systems to support the execution of the strategic roadmap.

By grounding the vision and strategy sessions in the comprehensive understanding gained during the preparatory phase, organizations can ensure that the outcomes are not only aligned with the organization's current reality but also responsive to the evolving needs of its stakeholders and the broader industry landscape.


Preparing for a vision or strategy session is a multi-faceted and iterative process that requires a deep understanding of the organization, its stakeholders, and the broader industry context. By assembling a core team of committed leaders, cultivating deep listening and sensing practices, synthesizing learnings into a 3D model of the current state, reflecting on the organization's reality, and envisioning the desired future, organizations can lay a solid foundation for impactful and transformative vision and strategy sessions.

This comprehensive preparatory process not only ensures that the organization's strategic decisions are grounded in a holistic understanding of its current state and future potential but also fosters a shared sense of commitment and alignment among the leadership team. By investing the necessary time and effort in this preparatory phase, organizations can significantly increase the chances of developing a vision and strategy that will guide them towards sustainable growth, innovation, and long-term success.

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20 + years experience in individual and organizational transformation. Global Faculty, Executive Coach, OD Consultant MTP: Creating future ready organizations where people bring their soul.