In this guide, you will learn how to determine a vision as part of of your campaign strategy. We explain what a vision is and how to define yours using template workshops.
What is a vision?
A vision is your idea of a Utopia. It might sound silly to imagine an ideal world that doesn’t exist, but the image of that world is the best way for you to make sure you share people in your organization or movement share values and vision of what you’re trying to achieve. Sharing visions between activist movements is a good way of building relationships and developing networks of camaraderie.
What does the situation you are working towards look like? What does the social or environmental change that you are working on feel like when you are there? Paint yourself a picture. This helps when you’re communicating with others about the world you hope to create through your campaign or community action.
How to find your vision?
1. Analyse your surroundings
Do a 'situational analysis':
What is the context?
What political, economic, cultural or other factors are creating or maintaining this problem?
What are the root causes?
What factors are likely to help or hinder you in achieving your objectives?
Who benefits from the problem being maintained?
Who would benefit from it being changed?
Are certain groups experiencing these injustices more than others?
What are civil society groups doing about the situation?
2. Determine the path to your goals
Do a 'critical path analysis':
What sequence of changes or outcomes will take you from where things are now to achieving your social change objectives?
What changes need to take place along the way?
What assumptions underpin your critical path?
What steps can you realistically bring about?
Use the 5 workshops below as inspiration how to determine your movement's vision:
💡 Vision gallery: To help people to think big and find a common vision.
⚡️ Forcefield analysis: To help you figure out what forces are working against you, and which are helping you move in the right direction.
🌳 Problem tree analysis: To find the root causes of problems.
🚶 Critical path analysis: To find out what needs to happen to bring about change.
🏷 Naming political assumptions: To create a better understanding in the different ways people view the world.
To stretch people's imaginations in envisioning the kind of society they would like to create, going beyond vague values to specific features
To facilitate a group's development of a common vision and clarify the values its members share.
To help people discover their own ideas and how much vision they have in common with others.
Time needed: 90 – 120 minutes
Resources needed: Large sheets of newsprint or construction paper, lots of markers or crayons, masking tape, and smooth floor or table space.
How it’s done
This tool has been tested cross-culturally and worked well with many groups, including Thai lesbians, Russian environmentalists, U.S. high school students and British anarchists.
Select a topic, specific or general. People may want to work on many features of their vision simultaneously, such as government, defense, economic system, family structure and recreation; or they can focus on a specific question like “What might this community look like ten years from now if really good changes kept happening? What would my life look like? What would schools be like?” or “How will people defend themselves and/or their values?” Encourage each other to think creatively. Assume no constraints on money or power.
Questions could be brainstormed at the beginning to trigger visionary thinking. Questions helpful to student reformers/revolutionaries might be: What would the goals of the “school” be? What kinds of decision-making processes would exist? How would learning take place? What kinds of social relationships would exist? What roles would students, faculty, administrators play? How would the physical plant be used?
For 15-20 minutes, individuals spend time alone, sketching their personal visions by writing, outlining, diagramming or drawing.
The next 30-45 minutes are spent in small clusters of 3-6 people, pooling their visions and expressing a common one on a large sheet of paper.
Each small group posts its composite utopia on the wall in the main meeting room, creating a “vision gallery”. Participants look, compare, discuss and question, informally. (15-20 minutes)
The total group gathers to discuss what they noticed. Questions to consider about process are: What are the areas of agreement revealed in the visions? What areas need the most work in developing a viable alternative to the status quo? What concepts do individuals agree or disagree with?
If the group is an organization which might propose a vision as part of its campaign for change, the facilitator can encourage those most motivated to find each other and create a task force to pull the common ideas together, back them up with research, and present them to a constituency or as demands to power holders.
A forcefield analysis helps to think about forces affecting the movement including, but not limited to external groups, internal division, psychological powers and blocks. Through discussion with others, the force field analysis can help us tease out differences of perspectives within our group. It can thus produce a rich analysis of potential places of growth for the campaign.
How it’s done:
Clearly identify the problem or campaign vision.
Identify forces contributing to the success and forces against success. (helpful to place in the following table format where everyone can see).
We encourage you to first brainstorm forces then arrange them into clusters, grouping together forces under headings such as political and parliamentary factors, economic factors, and community and movement factors.
Rate the impact/strength of each force (+10 to +1 or -10 to -1 as relative impact of force on movement.)
Discussion is an opportunity for sharing insights with each other
Think collectively about how to maximize the forces for success and how to minimize the forces against success. What are tactics (currently being used and especially those not being used) that can maximize our success.
Forces for success (+)
Forces against success (-)
Alternative: physical game (Tug of War)
Here’s a kinesthetic way to introduce forcefield analysis, based on Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis.
This exercise is designed to embolden the imagination and enlarge possibilities, politicize everyone regarding macroforces in a dynamic way and to explore how your group and allies can influence the forces “out there”.
The basic format is a tug of war, with rope which has multiple ends knotted in middle. Small teams are created, half of which identify a negative force in your group’s environment and half identify a positive force. These can be negative and positive forces acting right now and likely to act in the near future. As each team identifies a force, it takes its place on positive or negative side of tug of war. Then, action!
After one side wins, teams huddle; negative force teams ask selves how their power could be under-mined; positive force teams ask selves how their power could be enhanced.
Each team writes its conclusions.
All teams report to the whole the two most important ways (of enhancing or undermining).
Harvest learnings via newsprint.
Problem tree analysis
Critical path analysis
Naming political assumptions
Creative Commons resources
Workshop guide: Vision gallery by The Change Agency
Workshop guide: What is your political vision by The Change Agency
Developing and Communicating a Vision by Community Tool Box
Developing Vision and Mission Statements by Community Tool Box
Establishing a Vision and Mission by Community Tool Box
Being Purpose Driven by Nick Moriatis
Visioning by Citizen's Handbook
The following sources were reused:
Strategy by The Change Agency
Vision gallery - Adapted by George Lakey from Virginia Coover, Ellen Deacon, Charles Esser & Christopher Moore, 1977, Resource Manual for a Living Revolution, New Society Press, Philadelphia.
Forcefield Analysis by George Lakey, published by The Change Agency