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Vision by design: a reflexive approach to enterprise regeneration

Sydney Finkelstein (Professor of Leadership at the Tuck School at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA.)
Charles Harvey (Professor of Management and Dean of Strathclyde Business School at Strathclyde University, Glasgow, UK. )
Thomas Lawton (Associate Professor of Strategic Management at Tanaka Business School, Imperial College London, London, UK.)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 29 February 2008



This paper aims to introduce a strategic visioning method called vision by design and to use the example of Harley‐Davidson's corporate regeneration to illustrate how the method works in practice. This approach conceives visioning as a practical tool of management whose power stems from the facilitation of strategic conversations among stakeholders and the reflexive engagement of business leaders in past‐present‐future thinking.


The paper presents a four‐dimensional visioning model that facilitates exploration of both the internal and external contexts of the business. The advantage of the approach lies in breaking down vision into its component parts, lending simplicity and structure to the visioning process. The study employs a case study of the turnaround of Harley‐Davidson to illustrate this method.


The paper finds that, in undertaking corporate regeneration, Harley‐Davidson's senior management recognized the need for a vision that was comprehensive, inclusive and dynamic, but also realistic and grounded in the history and present circumstances of the business. The visioning process at the company was transformational because it ignited a strategic conversation that went beyond the boardroom to include employees, customers, partners and financiers.


The vision by design method adds value by simplifying the visioning process and focusing on a series of transitions, whereby the emerging vision is rooted squarely in business realities. As the picture of a regenerated enterprise is built up, both internal and external contexts are scrutinized, ensuring that the future vision is consistent and complete, attractive externally and deliverable internally.



Finkelstein, S., Harvey, C. and Lawton, T. (2008), "Vision by design: a reflexive approach to enterprise regeneration", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 4-13.



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