In community projects vision often expresses a hope to implement some values that are neglected in mainstream society: equity, solidarity, sustainability, gift economy, etc. Attempting to realise these values through a chosen mission is in itself a creative process of building a new culture.
The Vision (Why?) is a long term, visionary overview of the sort of reality we want to create for our group, and the planet at large. Vision is about a group’s shared worldview.
It answers the question “Why is the world a better place because of my group?”, and refers to ideals, values, and even dreams that are important and non-negotiable for the members. It should be fairly short, easily remembered, clear, understandable, and attractive for potential new members. As an example of a group vision: “We want to work together to foster peace, understanding between people and respect for all living beings, and to create a living environment where our group can reside in harmony, solidarity and balance with nature and the environment”.
The Mission (What?) is a more defined, localised and focused view of what the group will do to implement the vision and make it a reality in its cultural, environmental and social context. Again, it should be fairly short, clear and easy to quote and remember, and should give information on what the group will actually do. It answers the question: “What can we do to make our dream come true?”. An example of a group mission: “We will create a resident community of about 50 people, share living spaces to encourage participation, sharing and creativity, and farm the land sustainably, based on permaculture principles. Each person, family and small group will have a private living space according to their needs and possibilities. We are inspired by voluntary simplicity, sustainability, and mutual respect.”
The Strategic Goals/Plan (How?) are a set of clear and well-defined steps that the group will take in order to move in the direction pointed out by the vision and mission with effectiveness and efficiency. They contain a clear time frame and a list of practical actions that the group will take in the near future. They can refer to governance, decision-making, economy and property issues.
Knowledge of group processes should be a part of designing strategies. Thus focusing on the “what” (results) can integrate the “how”, while allowing that things will not always develop as planned.
Strategic goals do not need to be only short-term, but they do need to be defined and placed in a given timeframe to orient the everyday decisions made in the meetings.
The goals answer the questions: “What shall we do to implement our vision and mission, by when, and why?”
Here is an example of strategic goals, following the guideline to keep them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART):
“We will create a sociocratic association (2 months), identify the location for our community (6 months), and create a development plan based on permaculture principles (12 months). We will promote our project to bring in at least 3 new members (6 months) through a series of 10 public events that will inform and inspire both the general public and the local authorities (12 months).”
Concise formulation of vision, mission and goals, whether on the website, flyer or in a presentation, creates clarity and helps outsiders get a rough image of what the project is about. For insiders (members of the project) the intention serves as a criterion for decisions, particularly in the case of difficult decisions where members are divided. In such cases the group should ask the question: “Does this support the fulfilment of our mission and goals?”