10 Steps to Create a Shared Vision for Your CRE Project

Real Estate Development

Read Time: 7 Min

We are adamant (maybe annoyingly, but with good reason) about helping our clients start their projects off on a good note — one that involves a shared vision. We highlight this tactic as a key to the concept of placemaking.

Placemaking is commonly used in the real estate industry to imbue physical buildings and locations with meaning by putting people first. We talk a lot about this subject in our recent research report — “Making Places.” A shared vision happens to be the first key in a series of three keys to placemaking — the first step toward a successful project.

What is a shared vision exactly?

A shared vision seeks to develop consistency within a project and ensure the end product has cohesion. In other words, it is a mental image of the look and feel of your development and what it will mean to the community.

A shared vision is the destination for your project and serves as a beacon that guides the rest of the decisions from beginning to end. You want your project to fulfill what it set out to do, right? A shared vision will get you there.

How do we get there?

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Get everyone on board with the same idea and execute — what could go wrong? Well, it’s like trying to get everyone on board with the same movie for movie night — sometimes impossible. In order for everyone to have a great viewing experience, everyone needs to agree on the film. Same thing with a development project. But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s go through some of the steps that will get you from early ideas to implementing your vision throughout the course of your project.

1. Determine who is at the table.

Like we said before, you want your project to start off with everyone involved being on the same page. This is called early alignment (and also happens to be the second key to placemaking in our 2022 research report). Most of the time on a development project, the people at the table could be anyone from your own employees, to city stakeholders, development partners, or marketing agencies, each of whom has their own idea of what the vision should be. It’s up to you to decide who should be involved in the decision-making when it comes to the shared vision. May we offer you a word of advice? Make sure it’s a good variety of people. You’ll want to make sure you have representation in different facets of the operation — development, community representative, architect, etc. There’s a better chance of your vision coming to fruition if someone in every part of the project knows what it is. Down the pipeline, more people may become a part of implementing the vision, but it’s important to get this first group of people moving down the same path.

2. Make collaborative working time.

Once you decide who should be involved, it’s time to work. Gather all your partners, stakeholders, staff, and anyone involved in the project and schedule collaborative working time for everyone to share their ideas. You should be able to walk away with a pretty solid idea of what your shared vision will be, but not before asking yourselves many questions …

3. Ask questions.

As you are brainstorming your vision, make sure you understand your purpose — the ‘why’ of what you are doing. What are your core values? What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals? What is your focus? What have you been prioritizing? Who is your audience? And how does your work connect with others? Really dig deep into the heart of your project. It’s important to have a complete understanding of what you are trying to do, how you want to elevate what surrounds your property, and what you want to provide to those who will utilize your space.

4. Write the vision statement.

Most projects come out of all of this brainstorming with a vision statement — a sentence that completely encapsulates the entire direction, destination, and hope for your project. It can be as simple as a few words, just enough information to define the vision of your project. It should elicit a feeling, a visual, and start to get everyone excited about the completion of your project.

Want to Learn How to Make Your Community Stand Out?Download AOR’s Free Research Report — “Making Places”

Discover the power of putting people first, and let it change the way you approach your property development project. You’re one step away from the keys to success.

5. Set strategic goals and create a plan.

If the vision is the destination, then the strategy is what helps to determine the path that will get you there. Make sure your goals all align with the vision. As each decision is made and milestone is met, the execution of the vision becomes more and more clear. As you are setting up your goals and beginning your strategic planning, remember to have plans or processes in place to ensure a smooth journey. What will the evaluation and feedback process be moving forward? What are potential roadblocks and how are we going to navigate around them? How will leadership communicate the shared vision?

6. Align with creatives

Who are you? What do you do? And why do you do it? Once your vision statement is created, and you’ve decided to move forward, make sure you consult with a creative team. They’ll help you use the answers to those questions to inform your visual brand guide and messaging platform. Your vision should weave its way through every aspect of your project, this includes branding and marketing. A creative team will help you bring that part of your vision to life.

7. Return for more collaborative working time.

Alright, deep breath. You’ve set up some goals and made a plan, you’ve written your vision statement and you’ve started working with your creative partners to bring the vision into the branding and marketing. Now it’s time to reconvene with your original group of partners, stakeholders, staff, etc, that you spoke with at the beginning. At this point everyone should sign off on the finalized plans, especially before the next phase of execution. This stage should be used as a check-all — make sure everything is going the right direction, that everyone is on the same page, etc, before you move forward. For example, you may want to check with your interior designers and architects to make sure that all of your ideas can realistically be executed.

8. Execute your vision.

And now for the best part …. Execution! It’s time to see your vision come to fruition. So dig into your project, reflect on your vision every step of the way, and make sure that as you are on your journey, everyone involved continues to consult the vision before every decision is made. The goal is for your project to look as cohesive as possible, and with early alignment and a shared vision, it’s very possible. When all is said and done, you should also expect to see successful placemaking.

9. Host a retrospective.

Different businesses call this step different names, but it’s all the same concept — regroup and think about how your process from start through execution went. What can be changed and what did we do well? What questions should we ask ourselves? Is there another perspective that we should bring in next time? Did we take everything into account? How can we do this even better next time? It’s important to digest the process and understand what you did and how it worked versus how it didn’t. Retrospectives will lead to a more successful process next time.

10. And finally, celebrate!

Woo! You did it! So much hard work went into this process. It’s not easy getting everyone on the same page and it’s even harder to stick to one idea and see it through to the end, but you did. And you can do it again. While you are celebrating, make sure you recognize all the people that helped you get here and thank them for their time, effort, cooperation and creativity. You want to keep those relationships strong, especially if you worked well together, because you may want to work with them again. And finally, relax, enjoy your work, you deserve it.

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A shared vision is one of the three keys to placemaking. It establishes the look and feel of your project, and helps maintain consistency as each decision is made. It is vital to a successful project — we can’t stress that enough. If you’re interested in learning more about how a shared vision, along with the other two keys, can lead your project to successful placemaking, check out our 2022 research report.

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