Vision: Why It’s Important

Vision-casting is a team event. It begins with the leader casting out a future, a quest; an exciting idea of what together we could be. The process I like is something called “catch-ball;” it is a group process between a leader and those he/she is responsible to care for, develop, nurture and lead — and those whom the team serves.

Vision-casting answers questions such as “Who are we? What is it that we strive? What are our values; the values of the community, and those whom we serve?

A vision statement should be breathtaking, excite passion, and enlist everyone to pursue it. A vision is also a dream — a dream of what we could be and accomplish.

In order to get on “the bus” and begin to move forward, the driver, the leader and everyone on the bus, needs to have a destination.

I sense the problem police face today is that the community is demanding something new and better from their police and the police have yet to understand what is being asked of them, nor do they know how to get there once they understand the hopes of their community.

This is what Community-Oriented Policing (COP) is all about: the police, in concert and collaboration with the community, develops clarity of their mission to “serve and protect;” that is to move a slogan (letters on the side of a squad car) into action involving a community-oriented way of life by police that is visible and measureable.

Throughout my years in Madison, the vision I continued to cast as we implemented COP was “closer to the people we serve.” Close — working with — listening to — fair and equitable decisionmaking — restraint in using force.

As we moved forward to create a police department that worked with and reflected the community it served, our internal vision was “diversity is our strength;” not a weakness, but something that a modern governmental service-oriented organization needed in order to best serve the community.

Any vision must meet this test: After your group creates an agreed-upon vision those in the group are able to remember it the next day when they wake up. Visions must be exciting and able to be easily recalled; short and to the point.

An organization will never be able to move forward without the greater majority of its employees buying into the vision and what it means in terms of organizational improvement and transformation. Otherwise, all the “bus” can do is spin its wheels, emit a lot of smoke, and remain in place.