A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about creating a compelling vision story, with the underlying assumption that the vision is often crafted by a leader and their leadership team. While that may often be the case, I’ve found the sooner leaders engage everyone in the organization in making the vision part of their collective story, the more quickly the change is embraced. But how do you create a collective vision story, especially if you have many employees?

One way to engage everyone at the start of a change effort is to use one of my favorite tools, called SOAR, in a large facilitated meeting or in successive large meetings. SOAR stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results, and is based in appreciative inquiry, a process that is co-constructive and focuses first on what is best about the organization and the people in it. It can be used effectively with very large groups of people.

With Strengths, individuals and groups share what they value most about themselves, their teams, and their abilities to deliver on the mission for the organization. Then they explore the best Opportunities to further that mission, given internal and external realities.

Moving to Aspirations allows people to visualize their dreams, often capturing the dreams in a narrative story that uses vivid language. This is where the vision really gets co-created as they share their stories of what could be possible. Then, finally employees work to identify the Results they want to see and the specific things that need to happen in order to achieve those results.

There are many resources available on Appreciative Inquiry. One of my favorite how-to books is: The Power of Appreciative Inquiry.

SOAR is just one tool that can be used to engage employees in co-creating a vision for change. What have you found that works well?

Anita Rios

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