From Peter M Senge in his bestseller book The Fifth Discpline.
A shared vision is not an idea. It is not even an important idea such as freedom. It is rather, a force in people’s hearts, a force of impressive power. It may be inspired by an idea, but once it goes further-if it is compelling enough to acquire the support of more than one person-then it is no longer an abstraction. It is palpable. People begin to see it as if it exists. Few, if any, forces in human affairs are as power as shared vision.
At its simplest level, a shared vision is the answer to the question, “what do we want to create?” Just as personal visions are pictures or images people carry in their heads and hearts, so too are shared visions pictures that people throughout an organization carry. They create a sense of commonality that permeates the organization and gives coherences to diverse activities.
A vision is truly shared when you and I have a similar picture and are committed to one another having it, not just to each of us, individually having it. When people truly share a vision they are connected, bound together by a common aspiration. Personal visions derive their power from an individual’s deep caring for the vision. Shared vision derive their power from a common caring. In fact, we have to come to believe that one of the reasons people seek to build shared visions is their desire to be connected in an important undertaking.
Shared vision is vital for learning organization because it provides the focus and energy for learning. While adaptive learning is possible without vision, generative learning occurs only when people are striving to accomplish something that matters deeply to them. In fact, the whole idea of generative learning – “expanding your ability to crate” – will seem abstract and meaningless until people become excited about some vision they truly want to accomplish.
Today, “vision” is a familiar concept in corporate leadership. But when you look carefully you find that most “vision” are one person’s (or one group’s) vision imposed on an organization. Such visions, at best, command compliance- not commitment. A shared vision is a vision that many people are truly committed to, because it reflects their own personal vision.