Purpose: This activity typically follows the Backcasting teach (see Mental Models section). It helps participants come to shared conclusions about the vision they are working towards. Also, by outlining the vision before assessing the current reality, participants are not informed and bounded by past and present trends, by what is currently possible when creating it.

Materials: A blank piece of paper per participant, some markers/pens for the tables, a piece of flipchart paper with the instructions/questions somewhere visible to the whole room.

Time: 60 - 90 minutes.

Step one: Explain the purpose of the activity after giving the teach on Backcasting. Invite participants to individually write a letter to a dear friend. Say something like: “Imagine it is (20-30 years from now) and you are updating your friend on how (the location of the challenge) is different, instead being a known leader in (the context of the challenge). Explain in detail what it is like in (20-30 years). Who is most impacted? What would they be quoted as saying? Who was involved in making it happen? What does (the location of the challenge) look like? Feel like? Sound like? Include a sketch it. Give participants 15-20 minutes to write their letters.

Step two: Invite each participant to read their letter out loud to the group. Everyone listens for:

  • Words and/or themes in common (between the reader’s vision and their own)

  • Aspects that don’t overlap with their own vision, but that they feel are compelling or feel drawn to

Participants write down these reflections on two different colours of post-it notes, in order to sense-make later. Depending on the size of the group, this can take from 20-30 minutes.

Step three: After everyone at the table has shared their letter/vision, give the group 5-10 minutes to make sense of the insights (commonalities and unusual aspects that they liked) in whatever way makes sense for them, by clustering or mapping.

Step four: Have each group craft a three sentence vision statement, using the common words, themes and outlying inspiration. Reassure them that their vision statement should be:

  1. Unreasonably optimistic, and

  2. A work in progress

Step five: Invite groups to record their current iteration of a vision statement graphically - either written on a large piece of flipchart paper, or in the vision section of their template, if using.

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