What can go wrong in a collective vision creation process?

With no pretence at being exhaustive, here is a list of potential pitfalls:

  • Collective vision creation takes time and the process always has its downsand periods where views diverge. Transition teams and clients who are not prepared for this sometimes lose faith in the collective process. The participants can also become impatient. In that case, there is quickly a tendency to seek consensus and to accept less ambitious ideas. But the transition team must overcome the frustration and help the group to persist and to remain focused on the long-term ambitions for the system innovation. See also the question "What to do if the group falls back on the obvious?" under Experiment
  • Most of the members of the group have been chosen for their influence, with less attention for their personal commitment to the issue and innovation-mindedness. The vision creation then reaches a dead end because the ambition to innovate is lacking. You should therefore avoid involving everyone who should be asked because of their position. To do so will be at the expense of creativity and innovation
  • Some participants will persist in defending their own direct interests. Consequently, they will not contribute effectively to the collective process of creating a vision. In such cases, the chairperson should talk to the participants and consider whether the individuals concerned should remain in the group. Individuals will sometimes decide themselves to withdraw from a group because they do not feel comfortable in it
  • Members of the transition group are too busy to participate in the formulation of the vision. You should therefore discuss in advance with the members of the group what you expect of them
  • Another factor that could cause the process to fail is the absence of personal chemistry or of mutual trust, for example because differences in power form an impediment. In the latter case, you can try to design the process in such a way as to resolve the power differences. On this point, see also the questions "What criteria should a chairperson meet?" and "How to deal with power differences?" under Experiment. Or look at the example 'Health research: dealing with power differences.'