VMOSA – Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Action Plans

… a core concept in Leadership Skills and Atlas 109

VMOSAConcept description

VMOSA is a strategic planning process by which a group defines its own Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Action Plans.

Jenette Nagy and Stephen Fawcett, writing in Community Tool Box (reference below), describe VMOSA as a practical planning process that can be used by any community organization or initiative and “can help your organization by providing a blueprint for moving from dreams to actions to positive outcomes for your community.” Application of the VMOSA process need not be restricted to community organizations. Its elements can be applied to strategic planning in a wide variety of public management contexts.

Nagy and Fawcett describe the elements as follows:

Vision (the dream)

“Your vision communicates what your organization believes are the ideal conditions for your community – how things would look if the issue important to you were perfectly addressed. This utopian dream is generally described by one or more phrases or vision statements, which are brief proclamations that convey the community’s dreams for the future. … In general, vision statements should be:

  • Understood and shared by members of the community
  • Broad enough to encompass a variety of local perspectives
  • Inspiring and uplifting to everyone involved in your effort
  • Easy to communicate – for example, they should be short enough to fit on a T-shirt

“Here are a few vision statements which meet the above criteria:

  • Healthy children
  • Safe streets, safe neighborhoods
  • Every house a home
  • Education for all
  • Peace on earth
Mission (the what and why)

“Developing mission statements are the next step in the action planning process. An organization’s mission statement describes what the group is going to do, and why it’s going to do that. Mission statements are similar to vision statements, but they’re more concrete, and they are definitely more “action-oriented” than vision statements. The mission might refer to a problem, such as an inadequate housing, or a goal, such as providing access to health care for everyone. And, while they don’t go into a lot of detail, they start to hint – very broadly – at how your organization might go about fixing the problems it has noted. Some general guiding principles about mission statements are that they are:

  • Concise. Although not as short a phrase as a vision statement, a mission statement should still get its point across in one sentence.
  • Outcome-oriented. Mission statements explain the overarching outcomes your organization is working to achieve.
  • Inclusive. While mission statements do make statements about your group’s overarching goals, it’s very important that they do so very broadly. Good mission statements are not limiting in the strategies or sectors of the community that may become involved in the project.

“The following mission statements are examples that meet the above criteria.

  • “To promote child health and development through a comprehensive family and community initiative.”
  • “To create a thriving African American community through development of jobs, education, housing, and cultural pride.
  • “To develop a safe and healthy neighborhood through collaborative planning, community action, and policy advocacy.”
Objectives (how much of what will be accomplished by when)

“Once an organization has developed its mission statement, its next step is to develop the specific objectives that are focused on achieving that mission. Objectives refer to specific measurable results for the initiative’s broad goals. An organization’s objectives generally lay out how much of what will be accomplished by when. For example, one of several objectives for a community initiative to promote care and caring for older adults might be: “By 2015 (by when), to increase by 20% (how much) those elders reporting that they are in daily contact with someone who cares about them (of what).”

“There are three basic types of objectives. They are:

  • Behavioral objectives. These objectives look at changing the behaviors of people (what they are doing and saying) and the products (or results) of their behaviors. For example, a neighborhood improvement group might develop an objective around having an increased amount of home repair taking place (the behavior) or of improved housing (the result).
  • Community-level outcome objectives. These are related to behavioral outcome objectives, but are more focused more on a community level instead of an individual level. For example, the same group might suggest increasing the percentage of decent affordable housing in the community as a community-level outcome objective.
  • Process objectives. These are the objectives that refer to the implementation of activities necessary to achieve other objectives. For example, the group might adopt a comprehensive plan for improving neighborhood housing.

“It’s important to understand that these different types of objectives aren’t mutually exclusive. Most groups will develop objectives in all three categories. Examples of objectives include:

  • By December 2010, to increase by 30% parent engagement (i.e., talking, playing, reading) with children under 2 years of age. (Behavioral objective)
  • By 2012, to have made a 40% increase in youth graduating from high school. (Community -level outcome objective)
  • By the year 2006, increase by 30% the percentage of families that own their home. (Community-level outcome objective)
  • By December of this year, implement the volunteer training program for all volunteers. (Process objective)
Strategies (the how)

“The next step in the process of VMOSA is developing your strategies. Strategies explain how the initiative will reach its objectives. Generally, organizations will have a wide variety of strategies that include people from all of the different parts, or sectors, of the community. These strategies range from the very broad, which encompass people and resources from many different parts of the community, to the very specific, which aim at carefully defined areas.

“Examples of broad strategies include:

  • A child health program might use social marketing to promote adult involvement with children
  • An adolescent pregnancy initiative might decide to increase access to contraceptives in the community
  • An urban revitalization project might enhance the artistic life of the community by encouraging artists to perform in the area

“Five types of specific strategies can help guide most interventions. They are:

  • Providing information and enhancing skills (e.g., offer skills training in conflict management)
  • Enhancing services and support (e.g., start a mentoring programs for high-risk youth)
  • Modify access, barriers, and opportunities (such as offering scholarships to students who would be otherwise unable to attend college)
  • Change the consequences of efforts (e.g., provide incentives for community members to volunteer)
  • Modify policies (e.g., change business policies to allow parents and guardians and volunteers to spend more time with young children)
Action plan (what change will happen; who will to what by when to make it happen)

“Finally, an organization’s action plan describes in great detail exactly how strategies will be implemented to accomplish the objectives developed earlier in this process. The plan refers to: a) specific (community and systems) changes to be sought, and b) the specific action steps necessary to bring about changes in all of the relevant sectors, or parts, of the community.

“The key aspects of the intervention or (community and systems) changes to be sought are outlined in the action plan. For example, in a program whose mission is to increase youth interest in politics, one of the strategies might be to teach students about the electoral system. Some of the action steps, then, might be to develop age-appropriate materials for students, to hold mock elections for candidates in local schools, and to include some teaching time in the curriculum.

“Action steps are developed for each component of the intervention or (community and systems) changes to be sought. These include:

  • Action step(s): What will happen
  • Person(s) responsible: Who will do what
  • Date to be completed: Timing of each action step
  • Resources required: Resources and support (both what is needed and what’s available)
  • Barriers or resistance, and a plan to overcome them!
  • Collaborators: Who else should know about this action.”
Source

Jenette Nagy and Stephen B Fawcett, An Overview of Strategic Planning or “VMOSA” (Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Action Plans), Community Tool Box, at http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/structure/strategic-planning/vmosa/main, accessed 21 March 2016.

Atlas topic and subject

Strategizing (core topic) in Leadership Skills.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 24 March 2016.

Image: Meghan Fraley, SlideShare, at http://www.slideshare.net/MeghanFraley/human-development-2, accessed 21 March 2016.