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  • Writer's pictureThomas E. Anderson, II

5 Stages of Shared Visioning

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

Did you know, there are 5 stages of shared visioning?

In the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, leadership consultant Bryan Smith fully explains each level. Here is a short summary.

  1. Telling often takes place in a crisis or when top leaders sense dramatic change is immediately necessary.

  2. Selling includes “enrolling” and “enlisting” folks in order to increase commitment and buy-in for a vision crafted at the top.

  3. In the Testing phase, leaders treat the vision as an experiment, lay it out to be tested, and gauge the level of support and enthusiasm for accepting versus rejecting it. It reminds me of design thinking.

  4. Consulting calls for the leader to express her desire to build a vision but invites full engagement and input from team members and managers.

  5. Co-creating draws on the creativity and personal vision of individual group members to shape a collective future and articulate common purpose.

As you get to later phases, the time horizon also gets longer and exercising foresight becomes more important. Also, earlier phases rely more on lone visionaries than later phases. For instance, consulting and co-creating call for full engagement of employees and managers in the visioning process.

In 3 weeks, I will to start a round robin on vision-based leadership.

Why 3 weeks? On Aug 23, I will start the last phase of my doctoral journey…the final project.

I’ve written over 90,000 words in the course of this program 😅.

It's time to pull all the research together, connect the dots, and repurpose new insights for 21st century visioning best practices.

The next big topic? The connection between individual and collective visioning and what happens when the two are not aligned.

More vision-based leadership insights to come!


Smith, Bryan. (1994). Building shared vision: How to begin. In Senge, P., et al., The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. Doubleday.

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