Vision Planning: Paint the Picture of Success

We’ve all heard the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words. So if this is true, then wouldn’t it be helpful to have a picture of what the final outcome might look like?

Voice of the Customer

During the initial phase of an improvement project — when you are assessing the problem, putting together a team, acquiring a Champion, and so forth — getting customer input is critical.  It is what we call soliciting the Voice of the Customer (VOC).  There is nothing better to do than go to the source of value and ask them questions related to their experience with the problem, ideas for a solution and factors that will be critical to their satisfaction when the project is done.

This is, of course, easy to say and difficult to do.  It turns out, customers don’t always know what they want; their needs are fuzzy and sometimes conflicting.  How do you deal with this?  There are tools available to guide the customer from fuzzy to firm; from confusing to crystal clear.  One of these tools is Visioning.

Paint the Vision

The objective of Visioning is to translate the future state, not yet realized, into a detailed description

Visioning is a participatory tool that brings customers (be they internal or external) as well as other stakeholders together to develop a shared vision of the future. The goal of visioning is to translate the future state that is not yet realized into a detailed description of what a successful outcome looks like. The vision should focus on outcomes, not specific solutions. Development of solutions that achieve the vision will be developed later in the process.

In operations, it is often helpful to frame visioning using the 3P’s: People, Processes and Product (or Services).  To get started, ask customers, stakeholders, and other participants to be specific when answering the following:


  • What will people be doing more of?
  • Less of?
  • What skills will they have?
  • Are there development & progression plans for every employee?


  • Is the work visible?
  • Are targets clear?
  • Is management involved in the operation?
  • Is finding root cause encouraged?
  • Are employees rewarded for finding root cause?

Products or Services:

  • What is the market share?
  • What is the level of customers satisfaction with the product or service?
  • What is the product or services performance –what are the scorecard results?

It may also be helpful to ask questions such as:

  • What will people notice is different?
  • Ask customers to complete this sentence “I will declare this project successful if . . .”.
  • Ask other stakeholders to describe future performance (financial, operational, employee turnover, time to market, pricing competitiveness, internal & external competitiveness, etc.)

Use the results of these questions to develop written statements and visualizations of the projects outcome. Spend some time painting a picture of the future and the probability of your project being successful will increase accordingly.

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