US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

Creating the Vision

Activity Area: How will we get there?

Vision Activities

The following strategies and steps may be relevant when developing commitment tracking processes within this activity area.

Within this activity, the practitioner’s responsibility is to finalize value, goal, and principle statements in support of the vision; to document, communicate, and distribute the final vision outcome; and to provide guidance on priorities and responsibilities to move the vision into implementation stages.

Revise goals and guiding principles – Matching community goals identified earlier to the preferred future(s) developed establishes the path forward in the visioning process. Values, goals, issues, and principles may be aligned with the consensus alternatives in order to provide guidance on the priority issues to be identified in the vision and acted upon during implementation. This iterative process allows for public input and consensus building in preparation of the communication of the outcomes of the vision.

Examples: The Community Vision for the Aspen Area links vision statements with policy themes to provide direction for implementing the vision.

Describe vision outcome – Developing a unified, concise statement of vision, or supporting vision outcomes helps achieve the purpose of strategic visioning – to provide broad, long-term guidance. Communication of the final vision outcomes to participants, to stakeholders and partners, to the media and other interested parties may be an important component of this activity.

Examples: Cumberland Region Tomorrow developed a series of guiding tenants to express the region’s vision, while the Capital District Transportation Committee’s New Vision’s process resulted in 31 adopted principles for decision-making.

Establish implementation priorities – Moving from vision to reality requires attainable goals, actionable objectives, and measurable outcomes. With the momentum of crafting the shared vision, the roles and responsibilities of partners may be identified, working groups established, and resources dedicated toward implementation. These activities provide the framework for handing off the vision into the implementation track.

Example: The City Council of Austin, Texas strategically defines policy priorities and budget initiatives to achieve the city vision.

The research report for the Vision Guide contains extensive information about reaching stakeholders and tools that support stakeholder engagement. See Linking Community Visioning and Highway Capacity Planning in the PlanWorks Library Reports.

Visioning Components
Name Tools & Resources
Reaching Stakeholders

Collaborative techniques such as community working groups, breakout groups at public meetings, and other decision-making partnerships organized for the visioning process can be encouraged to lead the development of the final vision. The vision can be tested for acceptance through outreach to a broad range of stakeholders, through on line resources, public media, or large-scale meetings. Communicating the final vision in a compelling and accessible manner is a critical part of outreach. Simplicity is often best, and final visions are commonly represented as conceptual images, future maps, or simple statements. Final project materials also should incorporate information on the development process, implementation, roles and responsibilities, and future stages of the visioning process.

Practitioners may consider these questions when assessing outreach tools:

Is stakeholder input into the preferred scenario and final vision statement, clearly demonstrated and communicated?

Have we addressed participant concerns with the scenario development process to ensure maximum consensus and ownership of the outcomes?

How do we best communicate the final vision to stakeholders?

How do we begin to prepare stakeholders for implementation?

Forming Partnerships

Partnership Models – The roles and responsibilities of partners should be clearly communicated and identified when developing the final vision outcomes or products. Partnerships developed during earlier input or planning processes may be continued, or the practitioner may foresee the need to create new partnerships geared specifically toward implementation. Partner responsibilities developed at this stage may be transferred to future commitment tracking or outcome measurement processes. Partnership models or arrangements developed at this point in a process may include formal Councils or Committees (of elected officials or implementing agencies) or informal stakeholder groups with assigned actions or objectives.

Tracking Commitments

This area of the vision process should list activities necessary to accomplish the vision such as goals and actions. These will be used to develop performance indicators and commitment tracking processes. For example, if the vision includes the goal of enhancing the environment then one of the actions might involve implementing an ecological approach to mitigation. Actual implementation of this action may require changing agency policies, modifying legislation or increasing funding for advance mitigation of entire watersheds as opposed to project levee mitigation. Therefore, implementation of such an action may need to track a number of indicators such as agency policy-making, legislation activity, and budget initiatives for mitigation.

Within the final vision, outcomes such as principles, tenants, and goals should be linked with benchmarks or performance indicators and associated with the roles and responsibilities of implementing partners. Developed in cooperation with implementing partners, these objectives provide direct inputs into a commitment tracking process.