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Look to the future to create an effective vision

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Having a clear view of where you want to be will motivate your team and encourage change, says Hazel Holmes

Many organisations have a mission and/or a vision, usually articulated as a strapline or one paragraph. Often these can be meaningless to staff who are delivering the services.

However, I believe that a powerful and compelling vision of the future can reap huge benefits for both patients and staff experience.

A mission statement defines what an organisation is about and what its core business is. It is often stated in the present tense, and as it is always true. A vision, on the other hand, looks at what that mission will actually look like in the future. This doesn’t have to be just at organisational level but can be for teams or individuals.

A vision is an attractive, credible, future state that can be used to align the work of a team. It can be very motivating, especially through challenging times, like the present day.

Vision creation is a leadership not a management function. It seeks to imagine and create what does not exist, rather than simply manage what does. It gives staff the opportunity to think about the “art of the possible” rather than “more of the same” - it can lead to transformational changes.

Once you have created your vision with the team, it is your role as a leader to align the team’s development and values and behaviours to ensure successful delivery.

It is helpful to work and engage with your manager, so they also have buy-in to your vision. This is because they will be able to assist in removing organisational barriers that may prevent you moving further and faster towards delivering your vision.


Five steps to creating and using a vision

  • Learn about your organisation’s vision (if they have one) and share it with your staff. Set time aside with your most talented, engaged and loyal staff to develop your team/ward/department vision.
  • Using a flip chart, ask your staff to write what your area looks, smells and feels like today to patients, staff and visitors. Ensure everybody has a say and that you capture everything. Include, for example, infection rates, staff morale and decor.
  • Place another flip chart on the opposite side of the room and ask your staff to imagine they are three years into the future. Ask them to describe what your area should look, smell and feel like then.
  • Identify change programmes that will take you from today to your future vision. These may include developing leaders, changes to the environment, education and development.
  • Ensure that change programmes are hardwired into staff appraisal and objectives, with regular review; revisit current and future states.


Hazel Holmes is director of nursing at Liverpool, Heart and Chest Hospital Foundation Trust. She has been a nurse for 22 years, and recently won a Florence Nightingale Foundation leadership scholarship for Harvard University

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