Change Design

by David King

Developing a vision statement

For change to succeed in an organisation, a vision statement must have meaning or relevance to everyone in it. An organisation’s mission statement is usually set at too high a level and is often too vague to be useful when addressing specific change requirements.

So far you have captured your thoughts about what the ‘future state’ should be like. Now you need to structure these ideas to create a more formal vision statement that everyone can agree to.

One approach I have found useful is the ‘soft systems methodology’ of Sir Peter Checkland (see Want to know more?). This will help you to define the system you want, building on the viewpoints.

Soft systems methods suggest that you identify the following key elements, expressed in an easy-to-remember mnemonic: VOCATE (sometimes CATWOE is used, where the ‘W’ stands for Worldview or Weltanschauung). This highlights what you need to consider when defining the new ‘business system’, including the ‘soft’ people components:

A vision statement that uses the VOCATE elements will read like this:

An [OWNER] owned system to [VIEWPOINT] on behalf of [CUSTOMERS] by using [ACTORS] to [TRANSFORMATION] within the constraints of [ENVIRONMENT].

Use this template as a guide only, to ensure that all systems elements are present.

Careful drafting will enhance the clarity and impact of your Vision Statement. Here is an example of one developed for a health and fitness group that has recently acquired a new club to be integrated into the group:


A business system owned by the General Manager [the OWNER] that will fully integrate the new club into the Group and will ensure it meets Group business, financial, service quality and safety goals [the VIEWPOINT]. This will be achieved through focusing as a priority on the provision to members (and prospective members) [the CUSTOMER] of excellent, fit-for-purpose facilities and value-added services and amenities, combined with the development of mutually beneficial partnerships with statutory bodies, local businesses and the community [the TRANSFORMATION].

The club’s facilities and services will be managed and delivered by suitably trained and experienced personnel, supplemented by experts drawn from the Group [the ACTORS]. Constraints will include the health and safety regulatory framework, the club’s infrastructure and capacity, acquisition budget limitations, image/branding requirements, service quality and the compatibility of partners, suppliers and sponsors [the ENVIRONMENT].

It would also be worth developing your vision statement to include reference to implicit benefits: ‘the achievement of commercially and socially advantageous partnerships with local businesses and the local community’, for example.

Now you are ready to develop your ideas further through building simple blueprint business models. These will explain more fully how your vision will look in practice and provide a basis for the work needed to turn your business vision into reality.