Narrative Visions

Just added: Here's a homework assignment for participants, instructing them on how to write a narrative vision.

I just finished first day out of a two day course on Facilitative Leadership by Interaction Associates, and it has been fantastic. I'm going to need a week just to process everything I heard. I highly recommend the course. 

Tonight's homework assignment was to create a narrative vision. This isn't your generic corporate vision: "Be the best provider of service in our industry." This isn't even the inspirational "I want to put a ding in the universe," Steve Jobs-type of vision. A narrative vision is something much more personal, sensory, and visual. It appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos alike. It touches the sublime. 

Narrative visions are individual reflections and writing. Begin by writing a brief mission of the organization or team. This could be its task, purpose, or reason for being. Next, capture the values reflected in the work. Which is to say, the beliefs about what is important or desired. Then, brainstorm a quick list of five to seven images of what success would look like. 

Finally, in 100 words or less, write a vision from the perspective of someone experiencing it. What do they see? Hear? Smell? Touch? How do they engage in the experience? Are there other people there? How do they interact? How does the protagonist feel during the experience? Afterwards?

I didn't do very well at this. I couldn't get what I wanted to say down to 100 words. But I'll probably use this vision again, a lot:

The moment you enter the room, you know this meeting will be different. People are talking and smiling and laughing in small groups, standing together, or sitting around movable tables loaded with markers, paper, tablets, and other creative tools. Some are quietly reading, writing, drawing, or typing on their own. The floor-to-ceiling picture windows provide a spectacular view of the landscape and let in soft natural light. Easels and movable walls hold the content of meeting, and despite the flood of information, the flow and progression of the ideas are easy to grasp. With a glance, you understand the purpose and process of the meeting. You decide to explore the content on the boards and listen in for a while.
After briefly exploring on your own, you are welcomed warmly by the host, and quickly oriented to the social norms of the group. You agree to the principles of the meeting, inwardly relieved that you can engage in a way perfectly attuned to your own temperament and preferences. You are invited to join wherever you like, either on a discussion topic you feel, or with the people you’d like to engage with.
You head over to a group of four people writing on a large whiteboard. After reading their ideas and listening briefly, someone asks your opinion on an issue. You thoughtfully share your perspective. The others acknowledge and build on what you say. You have seamlessly integrated into their discussion. Their supportive, accepting attitude is in keeping with the principles you agreed to, and you’re happy to reflect that attitude back to them.
Sometime later, a soft chime rings as the host calls the attention of the group. She briefly checks in on the process of the meeting. Small adjustments are made to the principles. New methods are introduced and brought into the space. The meeting resumes. Some participants opt to continue their previous conversation, others politely excuse themselves and join others. Some pursue individual tasks. Some groups break up. Some form. Some individuals solicit others for their help, input, and feedback.
When the meeting ends, you feel refreshed and deeply engaged with the outcomes. Much of the work the group laid out for itself was accomplished during the meeting, leaving only a few small tasks to delegate or accomplish later. You are grateful for the experience and for the open collaboration you shared with your colleagues. You are satisfied by your own contribution. As you reflect on the day, you decide that there was no better way you could have spent your time. You look forward to tomorrow.