IAF Methods

Vision Workshop (LENS)

by for . Last edit was about 2 years ago
180 - 240 10 +

This is the first of the LENS workshops. It can stand alone but usually is followed by the Contradictions, Proposals, and Implementaries Workshops. Sometimes a Tactics Workshop is done between the Proposals and Implementaries Workshops.

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To state a common practical vision for the upcoming change process of the organisation and to participate in a new and effective process.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • large white board, flipcharts/markers


Types of participants: The most effective are those who are stakeholders and responsible for implementation

Pre-Work Required: The focus question of the workshop has to be developed by the assignment giver and the facilitator.

Context 10 Min.

1. In this workshop, we will create a common practical vision of what your organization needs in the future. A practical vision provides common direction for teamwork in times of change.

2. The Practical Vision is:
- Hopes and dreams for the next 2-4 years
- Often latent or unarticulated.
- What you practically want to see for this organisation. 

The most powerful, driving, unifying visions share several qualities
- They are concrete and specific.
- They are bold, challenging and exciting.
- They are attainable.

The Vision is not:
- Ideological.
- A vision statement.
- A scenario.


Assignment 45 min.

1. We will break into teams. Each team will come back with 20-25 specific elements of vision. We will meet back here in 45 minutes to build a consensus of our vision from the work of the teams.

2. In your teams individually make a list of your own ideas in response to the question:
- What is my vision for the future of the Organization? This means your hopes and dreams, things you anticipate. List as many as you can.
- Not "better", "more" or "upgraded", but exactly what you want to see.
- Not abstractions or virtues, like "quality" or "honesty", but specific examples. For example, instead of "quality" you might list "reduced delivery times?.

3. Take 10 minutes to do this.

4. In the teams, go around the table and make a list on the flipchart of everyone's ideas. The first time going around the group list the ideas that are the clearest. Do not comment on the ideas just list every idea that is mentioned even if you disagree with it.

5. Ask for more items that are not on this list. Keep going until the group is finished, then group similar items with symbols until you have about 20 items for your team.

6. Ask someone to prepare the cards, one idea per card.

7. Select a team reporter.
Are there any questions about the assignment?

Put these instructions on a flipchart or in a handout.


1. Prepare a plenary wall with ten columns, with symbols at the top of each column, the columns need to be wide enough for the cards. Leave room above the columns for title cards.

2. I will be calling for data from each team beginning with the clearest point on your list - the one that needs the least explanation. First I will place the card at random in these columns, and then as new cards come we will put similar items together. Finally, we will name clusters and columns of data, and organise them into a picture that describes our practical vision. We are looking for similar components to the vision.

3. Plot the clearest item per team. In this round you want to put items in different columns. Only put two cards in the same column if they are identical. If you run out of columns you can add more columns or you can put two items that are similar in the same column but separated from each other.

4. Plot two more items per team, pushing for clarity and concreteness. In this round you can put cards in the same column and next to each other if they are identical or if they are very similar. As items are organised into clusters it is important to refer back to the focus question. . It is possible to have 8 to 10 columns with 1 to 6 clusters per column for a vision.

5. Plot two more items per team that are different from any that are on the board so far. These card have new aspects if there are any.

6. Cluster cards within each column.

7. Give columns a holding title.

8. Have the teams associate all the rest of their cards with the existing clusters and mark them with the symbol , holding separate those which don't fit.

9. Plot the "don't fit" cards on the wall until every card has a column.

10. Put up all the rest of the cards, those that the teams have already assigned to clusters.

11. Name the insight behind each cluster to make cluster titles, making sure each is an answer to the focus question. 


13. As you look at the chart:

  • What catches your imagination? 
  • What is surprising?
  • What is a title you would give to the whole chart?
  • What is the next step that should be taken with this process?

14. Let's walk through the steps we have done this afternoon. What was first, then what?

15. How could you use this sort of workshop in your task as change manager?

16. What was our focus question?

17. What focus question would you like to use in your work?

Usual or Expected Outcomes: A chart of vision elements

How success is evaluated: Vision is articulated


Source: Jon Jenkins

Derived from: The Institute of Cultural Affairs ToP Method.

History of Development: The method was first created as a research tool for the 1972 Research Assembly of the ICA. Over the next couple of years it was taught as a course for families and later for business people. In 1974 the process developed in three different ways. It was used for town meetings in about 35 countries. It became a strategic planning process for businesses and other organizations and continues as such to this day. It was also used as the planning process of community development projects in about 30 contries.

Recognizable components: This is a standard ToP Methods workshop

References: This is a standard ToP Methods workshop

Comments (1) ( 4.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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  • If there are more than 60 brainstormed cards, there will be lots of overlap. So you can adjust the numbers of cards you are asking from each team so that there are approximately 35-60 total brainstorm cards.

    about 2 years ago