National Park Service
Heritage Preservation Services   —   Historic Preservation Planning Program
Phoenix, Arizona Bird's Eye View, 1885

Planning Companion

Typical Planning Process
Introduction »

Planning & Historic Contexts  »

Comprehensive? »

scale »

scope »

Step 1.
Planning for Planning »

Step 2.
Creating a Vision

Step 3.
Understanding the Resources »

Step 4.
Other Planning Factors »

Step 5.
Issues and Opportunities »

Step 6.
Goals and Objectives »

Step 7.
Implementation Strategies »

Step 8.
Producing the Plan »

Step 9.
Implementating the Plan »

Step 10.
Revising the Plan »

Sources of
Information »

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A Typical Planning Process

Step 2. What Future Do We Want for Our Heritage? Creating a Vision

Creating a vision for the future of resource preservation in the planning area is a fundamental step in preservation planning.

A vision for historic preservation is basically what you want the future to be for historic and cultural resources in the planning area.

What is Vision?

Vision is basically a picture of the future, and the more detailed the vision, the more useful it can be in identifying and selecting strategic issues (Eadie 1995).

Vision describes what you want the preservation future to be. It captures our imagination and passion. It expresses our ideals. If there is no vision, no image of where we want to go, there can be no means to get there. Vision is not just wishful thinking.

Vision is our planning destination -- what we want to achieve through the planning process and plan implementation.

Vision typically has the following characteristics:

  • Idealistic, grand, passionate, and inspirational.

  • Long-term perspective.

  • Focus on creating a future rather than forecasting it.

  • Shared, representing collaboration and consensus among a wide range of individuals and groups.

  • Describes planning area values and what the residents want the area to look and be like in the future.

A positive, meaningful vision of the future supported by compelling goals provides purpose and direction in the present (Mapes 1991).

Understanding vision also means understanding what it is not:

  • A vision is not a mission statement.

    • A mission statement describes an organization's purpose, goals, functions, products and customers in the present. A vision is a lofty picture of the future we would like to see (Mapes 1991).

  • A vision is not a goal statement.

    • Goals are the steps taken to reach a vision. Goals are grounded in deadlines, tasks, and activities, and are ultimately achievable, but vision is open-ended.

Creating a Vision

Creating a vision begins with bringing together individuals who will take action to achieve the future described in the vision. The group should put aside day-to-day concerns and imagine the characteristics that will define an ideal future. The following questions adapted from the Alliance for Nonprofit Management can help focus the groupís creativity:

  • What is our time frame, how far into the future are we looking?

  • How do we want our community to be different?

  • What roles do we see preservation organizations playing

  • What will success look like?

The Alliance for Nonprofit Management cautions against having the group write the vision statement. It recommends that one or two people draft a statement based on the groupís work, circulate it among the groupís members, and revise it until everyone can agree on its content.

Additional guidance on Visioning can be found in Sources of Additional Information — just click on the menu link to the left.

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