Developing a Vision Statement

A vision is a statement that paints a picture of the future that you hope to create (e.g., a statement of your preferred future). It captures your hopes of what will result from your council's efforts. It represents a future for which your council is willing to take responsibility for attempting to achieve. It will likely take time and hard work to develop a vision for your council, and that vision may change over time. Nonetheless, the vision will:

  • Inspire your council to come to meetings when the pressure of other business grows strong;
  • Guide your council's course of action; and
  • Help secure support for change from your colleagues and community.

Activity for Vision Setting

  • Consider the following questions:
  1. If the criminal justice system in our jurisdiction were working ideally, what would be its characteristics?
  2. What results would it achieve?
  3. What values would guide how these goals are achieved?

  • Council members should take a few minutes to jot down their ideas about each of these questions. When they are finished, go around the room and record each person's first response on a flip chart. Go around the room again and note each person's second response. Continue this process until all ideas are recorded for all three questions.
  • Review the ideas generated. Discuss each one and ensure that its meaning is clear. Eliminate duplications. To answer each question, develop a statement or set of statements that reflect the consensus of the council.
  • If multiple statements are produced, prioritize these by asking each member to rank order the statements, then tally the "votes" for each statement. Select the portions of the prioritized statements that resonate with council members.
  • From these, craft a single vision statement that reflects all of the agreed-upon ideas and comments.
  • This process may take some time. You may not be able to complete this work in one session or even as a full council. Often it is useful to form a subcommittee to craft a proposed vision statement based on the concepts/statements developed by the full council


  • Remember that your vision statement should be energizing and inspiring and, when complete, describe your hopes for the future.
  • Avoid getting hung up on your current situation, limitations, or the tasks needed to reach your vision. The vision statement is about where you want to go and why.
  • Keep it simple. Your vision statement should be easy to explain and easily understood by non-council members. Avoid jargon. Keep it short. The details belong in your mission statement and goals.
  • Work on your vision statement until it truly represents the hopes of everyone on the council. It should be a powerful and compelling statement.
  • Use the vision statement as a touchstone for your ongoing efforts. Once it is complete, display your statement during each meeting.
  • Revisit your vision statement from time to time, and change it as your work together evolves. (1c: Creating a Vision for Your Policy Team | Evidence-Based Decision Making, n.d.)

Read Helpful Hint.

See examples of vision statements.