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Section 1. An Overview of Strategic Planning or "VMOSA" (Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Action Plans)

Tool 1: Defining Your Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Action Plan

What is the purpose of your organization? How will you achieve it? The VMOSA process helps your initiative develop a blueprint for moving from dreams to actions to positive outcomes for your community. VMOSA gives both direction and structure to your initiative.


Your group's vision is your dream, a picture of the ideal conditions for your community. As a unifying statement for your effort, it also reminds you what you are striving to reach and guides important decisions.

A vision statement should be a few short phrases or a sentence that conveys your hopes for the future. Catchy phrases such as "Healthy teens," "Safe streets, safe neighborhoods" and "Education for all" illustrate the common characteristics of a vision statement. Craft a statement that is:

  • Understood and shared by members of the community
  • Broad enough to include a diverse variety of perspectives
  • Inspiring and uplifting
  • Easy to communicate (fits on a T-shirt!)


Your mission statement is more specific than your vision. As the next step in the action planning process, it expresses the "what and how" of your effort, describing what your group is going to do to make your vision a reality. An example of a mission statement: "Our mission is to develop a safe and healthy neighborhood through collaborative planning, community action, and policy advocacy."

While your vision statement inspires people to dream, your mission statement should inspire them to action. Make it concise, outcome-oriented, and inclusive.


Objectives are the specific, measurable steps that will help you achieve your mission. Develop objectives that are SMART+C: specific, measurable, achievable (eventually), relevant to your mission, and timed (with a date for completion.) An example of an objective would be: "By the year (x), 90 percent of the area's drug houses will be eliminated from our target area."

The +C reminds you to adds another important quality to your goals: make them challenging. Stretch your group to make improvements that are significant to members of the community.


Strategies explain how your group will reach its objectives. Broad approaches for making change include advocacy, coalition building, community development, education, networking and policy or legislative change. For example, a child health program could choose a broad strategy of social marketing to promote adult involvement with children.

Specific strategies guide an intervention in more detail. To promote the health of children, you might also enhance people's skills (offer training in conflict management), modify opportunities (offer scholarships), or change the consequences of efforts (provide incentives for community members to volunteer as youth mentors).

Action Plan

Your action plan specifies in detail who will do what, by when, to make what changes happen. It may also note the resources needed, potential barriers or resistance, and collaborators or communication lines that need to be active.

An action plan guides you to your dream through "do-able" steps. You can rely on this plan to know what actions you should take day by day.

Tool 2: Action Planning Guides from the KU Center for Community Health and Development

Community and Public Health Action Planning Guides

Child and Youth Health and Development Action Planning Guides

Community Development and Capacity Building Action Planning Guides


An Example Outline Using Two Half-Day Working Sessions

Action Planning Workshop Outline: Two Half-Day Working Sessions

Overall Process: An effective action planning session allows a diverse group of participants to:

  • Clarify common purpose - Through listening, gathering and reviewing data, and building a shared vision and mission.
  • Generate and critique options - Through consideration of risk and protective factors, broad and specific strategies, and the community's framework for action, it identifies particular changes in communities and systems (i.e., new or modified programs, policies, and practices) to be sought to achieve the mission.
  • Obtain consensus about community and systems changes to be sought - Through ballot voting about the importance and feasibility of proposed changes, or by having participants use "dots" to register preferences for changes to be sought.
  • Decide how to proceed as a group - Through open discussion, the group identifies action steps (i.e., who will do what by when) to bring about the identified changes.

Background Work Before the Session/Workshop:

  • Those developing the workshop should review the VMOSA process
  • Hold listening sessions with a variety of people including those most affected
  • Document the issues or problems, including data on the challenges of the issue your organization is facing

Session/Day One (1/2 Day)

8:30: Continental Breakfast
9:00: Welcome and Introductions
9:20: Overview of the Action Planning Process
9:30: VMOSA: What is VMOSA (Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, Action Plans)?
9:45: Vision: Promoting Neighborhood Development (Creating your own community's vision)
10:15: Mission: What are we trying to accomplish and why? (Stating your mission).
10:45: Objectives: How much of what will we accomplish by when? (Creating your objectives).
11:15: Strategies: How will we get there? (Identifying a set of broad and specific strategies).
12:15: Questions/ Wrap Up:Group Summarizes Accomplishments of Session/Day One
12:30: Adjourn

Product of Session/Day One:

A new (or renewed) statement of the group's Vision, Mission, Objectives, and Strategies. (These may require review or approval by a broader group.)

Homework Before Session/Day Two:

Review the "Inventory of Potential Community and Systems Changes for Promoting Neighborhood Development." Bring recommended changes to be sought: a) by specific strategy (i.e., providing information and enhancing skills, modifying access, barriers, and opportunities, enhancing services and support, changing consequences, and modifying policies) and b) by community sector (e.g., Community Organizations, Faith Communities, Government).

Day/Session Two (1/2 Day)

9:00: Review of Session/Day One and Overview of Session/Day Two
9:15: Identifying Targets and Agents of Changes: Who should benefit? Who can contribute?
9:30: Identifying Community and Systems Changes: By Strategy (work in small groups of 6-8 organized by strategy)
10:15: Small Group Reports
10:45: Identifying Community and Systems Changes: By Sector (work in small groups of 6-8 organized by sector)
11:15: Small Group Reports
11:45: Building consensus on community and systems changes to be sought (e.g., using dots, voting)
12:15: Next Steps:

  • Building Consensus/Seeking Approval from the larger group (if appropriate)
  • Identifying Action Steps for each change to be sought (who will do what by when)
  • Plan for Documenting Progress and Promoting Celebration and Renewal

12:45: Questions/ Wrap Up - Group Summarizes Accomplishments of Session/Day Two
1:00: Adjourn

Product of Session/Day Two:

A set of community and systems changes (i.e., new or modified programs, policies and practices to be sought in each relevant sector of the community (e.g., Community Organizations, Faith Communities, Government).

Jenette Nagy
Stephen B. Fawcett