What to include in a Strategic Visioning Document


An aspirational statement of what your contributions will help to achieve over time. It is a statement of what you are working toward. It represents what you are pursuing as your cause. It is often a bold statement characterizing the potential impact of your or your organization's efforts. 

For example, the vision of Microsoft at the time of its founding was, "A computer on every desk and in every home." This was not something that Microsoft was going to be able to accomplish on its own, but it was a clear aspirational statement of what the company and its employees were working toward. It was motivational.

Employees, regardless of job responsibilities, could see how their contributions were contributing to achievement of the vision.


A mission statement often operationalizes the vision. It tells what your specific contribution will be to the bold goal characterized in the vision, and how you are going to get there. Mission statements often identify strengths and how those might be mobilized to contribute to accomplishment of the vision. It is a declaration of the core purpose and focus of your organization. While the wording of the statement may change, the mission remains relatively unchanged over time.

Examples include the following:

  • To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy (Tesla)
  • To reinvent how people share knowledge, tell stories, and inspire their audiences to act (Prezi)
  • Spread ideas (TED)
  • To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful (Google)
  • To connect the world's professionals to make them productive and successful (LinkedIn) 

How mission and vision interact can be illustrated by the following statement: our mission is to do X so that we can achieve Y (the vision). A vision statement tells us why we are doing what we are doing. A mission statement reminds us the pathway for getting there.

The vision and mission of a subunit (e.g., department, school, center) of the larger organization (e.g., IANR, UNL) should align with that of the larger organization and should contribute to the mission and vision of the larger organization. Failure to achieve that alignment will result in a fracturing of the organization in which neither the subunit nor the larger organization will be able to fulfill its mission nor make gains toward achieving the vision.


Given the Core Expectations of Academic Leaders (see above), unit leaders and faculty may want to include values related to culture/climate and inclusive excellence. If these are truly values shared by those in the unit, they should be reflected (and evident) in the strategic visioning document. 

Goals and Objectives

Goals are tied to the mission and congruent with the vision. A helpful way to think about goals, distinguishing them from objectives, is to see goals as pertaining to the entire organization: This is what we are going to accomplish as a group in fulfilling our mission.

A helpful way to think about objectives, distinguishing them from goals, is to see objectives as pertaining to how each subunit (e.g., program, team, individual) will contribute to the goals: This is what this subunit of the whole will do to contribute toward achievement of the goal. 

Be aware that there may be some subunits that don't directly contribute to a particular goal. This does not mean that the subunit is irrelevant or unnecessary. Not every subunit needs to contribute to every goal, and many subunit contributions are indirect yet still essential for accomplishment of the mission. Leaders should find ways to recognize these contributions so individuals within these subunits do not feel that their contributions are undervalued or marginalized.

Hiring Plan

The unit's hiring plan should be tied to the strategic visioning document and focus on the expertise that is needed to achieve the mission or address grand challenges. This should be accompanied by an examination of what expertise already exists within IANR or beyond that could be tapped to expand the unit's capacity to achieve strategic goals and the ambitions of the unit and of IANR.

Strategic hiring plans address:

  • positions needed to fulfill the core mission of the unit.
  • how the unit contributes to the IANR communities.

While the hiring plan is about filling gaps in expertise, consideration should be given to other characteristics that could also help the unit move toward achievement of mission and vision. Useful questions could be:

  • What characteristics are missing from our unit?
    • How would these characteristics enrich the scholarly environment and help us achieve our goals, mission and vision?
  • What characteristics are missing from our unit?
    • Are we okay with that? If so, why? If not, what can we do about it?