Dr. Martin Luther Kind and Strategic Vision

Strategic Vision: By definition it could be a statement articulating an approach to an organization’s future direction and basic philosophical makeup. It is an aspirational, forward-looking statement of what an organization will look like at a point in time in the future.

Half a century ago this nation was experiencing a movement that began like a ripple in a pond. That ripple began to grow and swell into something many people could never have imagined. Soon it became a tsunami that overwhelmed and blanketed the country in change. At the forefront of that change were many Americans who envisioned a new national reality. One where ALL Americans would feel and BELIEVE that they were living in an indivisible union known as The United States of America. Of all the voices heard, there evolved one whose words and actions rang true to the basic tenets of our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence—The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.

Through the decade of the 60’s, Dr. King and many others were the visionary leaders who attempted to develop and begin the execution of a strategic plan. Depending on who, or what, you read, strategic planning elements may be presented differently. There are certain elements that should always be present: STRATEGIC VISION, MISSION, and GOALS. Fundamentally, without a clearly articulated “Vision” the planning process is doomed to failure. The “Mission” and the “Goals” will likely be as vague as the weak “Vision Statement.”

The “Vision” evolves and develops from “Core Values” describing:

  • Who we are

  • What we stand for

  • Guide us in making decisions

  • Underpin the whole organization

  • Require no external justification

The “Vision” should be uplifting, it should empower the target audience, and it should be feasible and achievable. Given the vagaries and realities of life, however, the Vision must be somewhat flexible while still being true to its origins.

With these landmarks, I recommend the following to your review: Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” delivered August 23, 1963. While I have read the text and heard the words so many times over the last 50 years, I chose to review it again. It is not a brief “Vision Statement.” It is an explanation of the “Strategic Vision” that we, as a nation, should, and must, embrace if we are to ever fully realize the potential offered by our great and diverse populace.

All of us, as leaders, should review the speech and consider what we might do to maintain the Vision. This link will take you to the full text of Dr. King’s speech.