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Facilitation Resources - Volume 3

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Contents | Facilitation Resources (main page) | Authors | Order Form | Reference List

Volume 3. Getting Focused: Vision/Mission/Goals

Overview: Getting Focused - Vision/Mission/Goals

Facilitators are often asked to lead groups through planning an agenda, creating and/or revisiting mission statements, setting goals, and developing work plans. The work of strategic planning, vision development, mission statements, and goal setting is an art and a science by itself, and we cannot do it justice in this brief resource guide. There are several resources in the reference section that should be specifically helpful to facilitators. This is by far not a complete list, but will help lead you into the "literature," should you be interested in learning more. Several outlines and worksheets are included in this section to get you started.


Facilitating the development of a shared vision is important in all groups, whether or not strategic planning is their focus. Individual goals and desires must be woven into a common focus for the group. Everyone in the group should know what the group intends to accomplish. What will success look like? At the beginning of a meeting everyone should understand and share in the vision of what the group expects to accomplish at this meeting. The expectations should be in alignment with the long-term vision of the group. Long-term group visions may take many meetings to accomplish.

Planning an Agenda

What a group expects to accomplish at a meeting must be anticipated when an agenda is developed. Many agendas are drafted prior to the meeting so it is especially important that the facilitator understand what results the group is aiming toward. Once the desired results are clear, the agenda can be further developed with time frames, specific topics to be covered, and processes planned for each topic.


Mission, vision, and goals also need to be considered as part of the contracting process described in
Volume 2. For example, a group might request your facilitation help during a budget crisis. Another common request is for a session on restructuring their organization. Often in these cases it will be obvious to you as the outside facilitator that what they need to look at are their vision and mission rather than budget or structure. People often look at the "symptoms" rather than the problem itself. No matter what the request, make sure during contracting that the group is clear about its mission.

It is important to make the distinction between the role of a facilitator and that of a planner. The lines can become fuzzy and need to be sorted out during contracting. This can be especially true if the facilitator is experienced and knowledgeable in strategic planning. Experience suggests that individuals not try to "wear both hats."

Strategic Planning

Effective mission statements share common characteristics: they are to the point; people see how they fit in; their language is nontechnical; they provide a focus and look to the future; they indicate impacts and outcomes; they are believable; they make the group distinct and unique; they are philosophical in a practical sense.

A variety of methods can be used to help groups in the strategic planning process. Several examples are included in the resource guide. The following pages contain examples of ways to interact with a group for an effective mission statement and plan for outcomes.

Other Resources

There are a number of organizational assessment tools you might recommend in these situations. Leadership: Sustaining Action in Community and Organizational Issues, co-authored by Donna Rae Scheffert and published by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, is a publication/process that will help the facilitator and organization work through this common dilemma. John Bryson, professor at the Humphrey Institute, has published two nationally recognized resources on strategic planning. Refer to the section on Finding More Resources.

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