Developing “shared vision” is an often repeated recommendation for effective and sustainable change from organizational consultants (Kania and Kramer, 2011) and scholars of higher education (Henderson, Beach, and Finkelstein, 2011). Embracing stakeholders as full partners through sharing vision is a proactive way to bridge connections and incorporate a variety of viewpoints into the change process. Building shared vision requires broad stakeholder engagement and infuses the change project with both personal agency and effective participation. Shared vision is a useful concept that can be made more accessible and actionable through social science research on how change-making teams engage and empower stakeholders to collaborate on their projects.
Sharing vision can amplify success, increase participation, and erode the divide between project leaders and constituents. While desiring stakeholder cooperation, change agents often focus on acquiring “buy-in” from stakeholders, but this concept is quite limiting for change projects, especially those focused on DEI. The very language of buy-in predisposes change leaders to favor informational communication in order to get stakeholders excited about decisions, rather than formational communication that involves them in decision-making.
Based on our experience working with university change agents funded through the NSF RED (Revolutionizing Engineering Departments) Program, this workshop shares strategies for developing and sustaining shared vision. As the RED projects progressed, teams adjusted to meet challenges and expanded to include more stakeholders; the teams have learned from their experiences and adopted new strategies targeted at improving inclusion and empowerment to solve specific problems they did not identify at the outset of their projects. We find that teams establish shared vision with stakeholders through appealing to a range of motivations, honoring what has come before them, engaging stakeholders via strategies of co-orientation and integration, and sharing the labor of change. This workshop will help attendees understand their own contexts and develop actionable plans to build shared vision into their projects.
As a result of this session, attendees will:
• Understand the concept of shared vision, and how it differs from buy-in;
• Assess the current practices on their campuses/departments/organizations that support the development of shared vision around DEI;
• Apply and adapt effective shared vision practices to their own contexts;
• Develop a plan of action for cultivating shared vision to improve DEI on their campuses.
Brief overview of activities that will take place during the session:
We will begin by introducing attendees to the concept of shared vision and why it is useful for DEI change projects. We will then facilitate a number of exercises, grounded in our research findings, that will help attendees understand their own professional contexts and to what degree they are currently cultivating shared vision for DEI activities. As participants inventory their own practices, we will provide examples of campus practices that we have collected from the RED projects. These examples can be revised and adapted to the attendees’ contexts.
Opening, Land Acknowledgement, and, visioning exercise (5 minutes)
What does shared vision look like? (5 minutes)
a. Briefly present research findings
b. Share a sample shared vision document
Whom do change agents engage? (10 minutes)
c. Briefly present research findings
d. Activity on brainstorming potential stakeholders, network connections
e. Group share-out
Why should stakeholders participate in shared vision? (15 minutes)
f. Briefly present research findings
g. Activity on brainstorming what motivates your potential stakeholders, and how this impacts how you will engage with them
h. Group discussion
What strategies encourage shared vision? (15 minutes)
i. Briefly present research findings
j. Activity on identifying short-term wins
k. Group share-out
Group discussion and Q and A (10 minutes)
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.