US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

Preparing the Vision

Activity Area: Who will we involve?

Vision Activities

Within this activity, the practitioner’s responsibility is to clearly establish the lead sponsor for the visioning process, to reach agreement on the representatives and process structure for collaborative decision-making, and to define the partnerships and structures best suited to fulfilling desired objectives.

Establish sponsor – Convening a visioning process should be the responsibility of a primary convening organization. Visioning processes are time and resource intensive and are more likely to be successful with dedicated staff and support resources.

Example: Ten at the Top, a regional organization, sponsored a process to create a Shared Upstate Vision for South Carolina.

Define decision-making structure – Moving a visioning process forward often cannot often occur without agreement from multiple partners and interests. A defined decision structure, such as an advisory committee, board of directors, or core partner group, with clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations is critical to the legitimacy and longevity of a vision.

Examples: Maricopa Association of Governments Region 2025 Vision Committee is a structured and diverse public private partnership. Central Florida’s How Shall We Grow? process resulted in a Congress of Regional Leaders to continue decision-making.

Develop partnership models – Gaining the cooperation of the many stakeholders and representatives involved in a visioning process often requires the creation of new partnerships, or developing the capacity of existing networks. Partnerships may be pursued to fulfill distinct purposes, ranging from enabling decisions, securing resources, implementing commitments, or engaging groups of stakeholders.

Example: Vision North Texas is organized as a public-private partnership between the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the Urban Land Institute, and other organizations.

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

Gaining the cooperation of the many stakeholders and representatives involved in a visioning process often requires creating new partnerships or leveraging existing networks. The role of outreach in this step is to ensure that key contributors are not overlooked and that feedback is utilized to fully identify all partners and stakeholders. Input from public meetings, questionnaires, on line communications community conversations, and other feedback mechanisms can be used to ensure that all contributors are identified.

Practitioners may consider these questions when assessing outreach tools:

Who has regulatory powers or implementation authority over key issues to be considered in the vision?

Which groups may have a vested interest in the process or might be most affected by the vision outcomes?

What partners or networks currently exist within the community?

Forming Partnerships

Partnership Models – Establishing a defined and accepted decision-making and organizational structure is necessary for a visioning process to move forward. A generic organizational model for a vision process typically involves an executive level body such as a Steering Committee, advisory level structures such as Technical Advisory Group, working level groups such as Task Forces, and public input level from which direction is initially drawn. Each of these organizational structures represents an opportunity to develop diverse, multi-sector partnerships among key stakeholders, such as elected officials, implementing agencies, funders, or citizen groups.