Defining a vision for the cluster

Getting Prepared for the Vision Workshop

In order to get the most out of the workshop, make sure that: 1) a detailed Agenda and some supportive material is sent to the (potential) cluster partners at least two weeks2 before the meeting; 2) the key people will be there.
The number of individuals who attend the visioning meeting may not be as important as the individuals invited. In case someone key (or other interested stakeholders) will not be able to attend, decide on ways to gather their ideas. One technique is to solicit, in advance, written ideas that capture their vision for the community policing initiative.
[Note: The CADIC Cluster Guideline can help you in deciding which audience you should target.]

Remarkable Note:

If there are more than five people at the meeting, the CFT should consider splitting them in smaller groups.
It is important that the CFT gives every partner the chance to express his/her opinions.
Finally, the CFT shall evaluate the value and utility to going through each and every step of the process, especially if the cluster is at the startup of the formation stage.

Part A: The Steps to the Cluster Values

There are a myriad of methodologies the cluster can follow to come up with a set of values that will best identify it. Below there is just one in many possibilities.

Step 1: Hold wide values discussions

Develop a worksheet with a list of key questions to elicit values. Alternatively, design an appropriate list of values (about 10). To speed up this part of the process, the CFT may elaborate a list and suggest it to the audience.

[NOTE: Assuming the cluster has gone through stage 1 of CADIC CMC, reflecting briefly on the already defined topic(s) and rough goals could be of help. A consistency check between goals/vision/values once completed the whole process is recommended. See also Figure 1 at the end of this section]

Distribute to all personnel to prioritise.
Identify the top 5 priority values the cluster partners feel at ease with –i.e. they match their beliefs and the way they understand business. Write the agreed top 5 on a flipchart.
Hold discussions to define importance of top values and come up with a rough but sound definition of each. The following questions can be of some help:

    ☐ Why has this cluster been formed?
    ☐ What value does it/ will it provide to its customers/stakeholders?

      [Note: If the cluster partners are not still clear on this point, an earlier step of defining the customers’ needs to occur. This can be facilitated through a team discussion of who the customers are and capturing them on a flip-chart]

    ☐ How will the cluster put its values into play?
    ☐ What is (or intended to be –if still in formation) unique about this cluster’s contribution?

Gain consensus of cluster values. These will make up the cluster’s code of behaviour. Remember successful teams/ organisations/clusters create and adopt their own codes of behaviours or expectations.

Part B: The Steps to the Cluster Vision

Step 2: Create Future Images

Have each person write the headline of a newspaper story about the cluster 10-15 years in the future that tells about the success the cluster has had. Share stories, and develop a list of common vision themes. Use this as a basis for writing a vision statement. Many variations of this process are possible.
Describe the future state in words, or with pictures. This is often used as a community-visioning tool, but a variation of it may work for organizations. Create an image (pictorial) of the ideal future for the cluster using some of these questions.

    ☐ Why has this cluster been formed?
    ☐ What value does it/ will it provide?
    ☐ Who are our customers?
    ☐ What value do we provide to our customers?
    ☐ How do our customers talk about us?
    ☐ How do our stakeholders talk about us?
    ☐ What is the unique contribution this team made to the industry/region’s success?
    ☐ How do our team work together to achieve these results?
    ☐ How does successful implementation happen?
    ☐ How do we work with our customers to achieve successful results?
    ☐ What lessons do we learn in creating success as a cluster?

Step 3: Display Individual Images

Share team members’ findings of step 2 above with the group.

Step 4: Create Shared Vision

Team members will now combine the individual images into a brief paragraph that captures the language and images appropriate to the future.
As a team, or in sub-groups, read each of the individual images. Discuss what themes these images share. Look for a way to combine individual images into one compelling vision consisting of 2-4 sentences. Use only the Post-Its on the flip-chart as sources. Be sure to note those images which do not seem to fit with the others.
Write the summary of individual images on a piece of flip-chart paper.
If the team broke out into sub-groups, assemble everyone and have each group present its part of the vision.
Put all the flip-charts along one wall and move them around until the team has the order they wantOpen a team discussion of whether this vision needs changes.
A vision statement can be drafted in a group, but it is probably better to leave the final wording to a single person, or small volunteer group.
Open a team discussion of whether this vision needs changes.
Gain final agreement on the vision statement and Post-It.

Step 5: Share the Vision

Distribute the developed vision via e-mail
Revisit purpose and vision when the team’s working conditions change. This may include changes to existing initiatives, the addition of new initiatives, changes in the cluster structure, scope or goals, or entry and exit of team members

Criteria for Effective Cluster Purpose Statements

Gives an idea of the cluster mission and critical success factors
Describes the principal function, scope, and services provided by the team
Is clear and easily understood by those within, and outside, the team
Identifies key customers or stakeholders served
Is forward looking
Describes the team’s unique competencies. What makes this team capable of contributing to the cluster’s success in ways no other team can?
Expresses the beliefs of team members and the organisation about how business should be conducted
Provides an inspiring, meaningful reason for working together for team members

Step 6: Final Check

Once this exercise is finished the CMs of the cluster companies will have a vision statement, built on consensus, upon which to establish the cluster objectives and goals.
Certainly, that the cluster has a written vision statement does not mean that the cluster partners live up to it. For this to happen, they might go through a visioning process, which is a rather different stuff. (See below what Peter Senge says to this respect, referring to Education)

How to substantiate a vision:

“The process always involves two dimensions. One is creating a reflective environment and a degree of safety where individuals can rediscover what they really care about. And the second dimension is to bring those people together in such a way that their individual visions can start to interact. We communicate our individual visions to one another and eventually start to create a field of shared meaning—where there really is a deep level of trust and mutual understanding— and we gradually begin to build a shared vision. Actually having shared visions exist is so profoundly different from writing a vision statement that it’s really night and day. It takes a long time, and it’s a process that involves a lot of reflection and a great deal of listening and mutual understanding. It always involves those two dimensions.”

Peter Senge, in O’ Neil (1995: 24)

The Figure 1 below attempts to display the process followed by SIDASA-EBU Cluster to define its vision. Circles (A) and (B) goes for Parts A and B of the methodology above. On the other hand, (C) aims to show the fact that as the cluster advances in its process of consolidation (i.e. the vision is effectively internalized and trust enhanced). It is expected that the cluster values and vision will affect too the SMEs’ culture and processes, therefore also enhancing the cluster partner collaboration and networking capabilities. The grey full arrow from ‘topics/goals’ to ‘cluster vision’ represents the particular situation of the CADIC CMC process where ‘topics/goals’ are defined firstly at the formation stage. This being the case, it is expected that they will inform the definition process.

For obvious reasons, the definition process just described refers to the situation where the cluster is still an aim in the strategic course of a couple of companies –the typical CADIC cluster’s initiation process at formation stage. However, the apparent consistency between the cluster and the companies values reflected in Figure 1 is something to be stressed. As observed in Some Previous Considerations, significant changes in the business environment or the membership of the cluster may call for reassessment of the vision-values. For incumbent clusters in later stages of development checking for consistency would contribute to their consolidation and identity differentiation. In such cases, an interesting pathway would be to start by asking the cluster partners ‘What do you think are the values of the cluster you are part of?’, similar to what IBM and other robust companies do from time to time. This simple quest not only may embody confirmatory power –with all the positive implications this might have- but it can also act as the starter for a more profound realignment process

O’Neil, J. (1995), “On Schools as Learning Organizations: A Conversation with Peter Senge”, Educational Leadership, Vol. 52, No. 7, Apr., pp.20-23

1 The Additional Module “M2 – Vision” of the ICS developed in the EU Project InCaS was the basis, not for the process, but for the content of this workshop. For information about this project go to the InCaS website,
2 Adjust this timing to the characteristics of each country/region.