Vision connects teams to deeper meaning and higher purpose. By touching the aspiring mind, vision offers the capacity to find and describe surprising success by applying values to describe a preferred future. At AFA we are constantly growing our range of techniques to lead individuals and teams into their aspirational space. A sample of our processes includes tailored exercises engaging the mind and heart, dialogue, and guided visualization, as well as our Aspirations Model (see Figure below).
AFA’s Aspirations Model
The Aspirations Model developed by long-time IAF friend and collaborator Roger Fritz describes two distinct mindsets or cultures that may arise within organizations.
On the left-hand side of the model, the organization’s behaviors (what it says, does, thinks, and feels) are aligned with its aspirations. When these behaviors are effective in making positive changes in the external circumstances, then the organization’s aspirations are reaffirmed in a loop of profound “positive feedback.” When behaviors prove less effective, the organization receives “corrective feedback” that highlights the need to revise or refine some behaviors. Either way, the organization is able to respond to circumstances in ways that are aligned with its aspirations.
On the right-hand side, circumstances drive behaviors – the organization has become a “victim of circumstance.” It continually reacts to the crises around it, producing not a reaffirmation of aspirations but rather an “exhaust cloud” of explanations, rationalizations, and justifications. This cloud reflects blame, guilt, and anger, and excuses inaction. Organizations that live on this side of the model can be seen as having not an “aspiring culture” but rather an “expiring culture.”
This framework is useful in strategic discussions for ensuring that the organization is able to operate on the left-hand side of the model, and to recognize when it is slipping over toward the right-hand side. By aligning behaviors with aspirations, an organization can identify strategic initiatives that will lead to surprising successes that reaffirm its deepest aspirations.