Last reviewed: 22 February 2022

Case studies

Vision and goals

Find out about the impact of Represent’s team vision session.

Natalie Clegg (Chair) and Carly Tait (Founder) talk about how they developed a vision for Represent, our network for disabled people.

What this case study is about

This case study includes how Represent did a group vision session to:

  • go from being unsure about what focus on, to agreeing what they wanted to achieve
  • empower everyone to share opinions and find alignment on their goals
  • agree that their purpose was to ‘represent’ colleagues
  • decide the name for their network
  • develop their vision and mission so that they could be definite about how they wanted to progress

The Represent network

Represent began when founder, Carly, sent a message on Yammer to connect with other disabled colleagues.

Represent started as a community of colleagues who came together to talk as friends. "We quickly realised that despite having a range of different impairments, our challenges and experiences of disability were similar,” says Natalie.

The group realised that they had all often felt isolated, and that the difficulties they had at work often related to the stigma and misunderstanding of disability from others.

They decided to make their informal group into a Co-op-wide network to support other disabled colleagues.

Why Represent needed a vision

Natalie describes the responsibility that the group all experienced in the beginning; "The pressure we felt to support colleagues was immense. We were passionate about wanting to change things, but we were trying to get through a mire of complexity. We couldn’t get agreement between ourselves as to what we wanted to achieve."

The two main challenges were:

  • a huge demand for support
  • the group did not feel aligned

There was so much that they could do, but they were struggling to decide where to start.

"We had a group with strong personalities and opinions. As a leader I wanted to bring people together on a journey. I wanted us to be clear about who we are as a group and what we stand for. The vision session was a valuable leadership tool to do that," said Carly.

How the vision session worked

Carly and the group spent a couple of sessions working on their vision and goals. It was set up in a Miro board so that everyone could work together in a collaborative way. Working in this way meant that the session was accessible for all of the group. “Having a visual interactive tool and a facilitator was key to making it work for different kinds of learners. If you have a sight impairment or a neurodiverse condition, or deafness, it is easy to miss captions and things being said in Teams meetings, says Natalie.

The group worked through the Miro board sections in a step-by-step methodical way. The facilitator helped to keep the group on track and make sure everyone is included.

You can’t underestimate how important structure is to a session like this.

Natalie, Co-op Represent Chair

What the group discovered

During the vision session the group realised that they needed a ‘people first’ approach and that building a community at Co-op was what was important. They discovered that they were here to ‘represent colleagues’ and so they got their name from the session. The group also decided that they needed to be visible in areas of society where they are excluded.

"We wanted everyone to feel empowered to create a vision for ourselves. In a collaborative session everyone owns it. It gives people a platform to question what we’re doing, talk it through and find agreement. It was a huge success and turning point for us."

Carly, Co-op Represent Founder

The impact of the session

Having the vision and mission helped the group to talk confidently about what we wanted to achieve,” says Natalie

Represent decided that they wanted to:

  • build a network of people to support each other
  • educate and raise awareness of disability - including helping people understand what disability means
  • influence policies and processes within Co-op to remove barriers to success

Natalie shares some of the misconceptions about disability: “Only 6 or 7% of disabled people are a wheelchair user, but that’s the perception of a disabled person, so it’s not an accurate perception. Disability doesn’t discriminate. We need people to be mindful that it affects people differently, even if they have the same condition.”

After the vision session, Represent decided to focus on breaking down the barriers to people talking about disability at work. They raise awareness through things like team huddles and being included in important discussions around diversity and inclusion at Co-op. Represent and the team have extended their reach beyond Co-op and take part in conversations with fellow Disabled networks and organisations across the country.

Represent want people to feel more confident about having conversations about disability. "Often people don’t bring it up because they’re afraid of using the wrong terms. But it’s better to have the conversation than not have the conversation at all," adds Natalie.

What the group learned from doing the workshop

The facilitator in the group is responsible for the pace and outcomes. They ask straightforward questions to help everyone to understand the detail and help group information together. “We went from having lots of ‘noise’ around what we were doing to having specific things that we wanted to do. We wouldn’t have been able to do that without the structure of the vision and goals sessions," says Natalie.

"If we’d not done these vision activities, I don’t think we’d have landed any of our work so well."

Carly, Co-op Represent Founder

Represent launched formally in 2021 and have a Twitter account and Yammer page (only available to Co-op colleagues).

Tools and resources

Go to our guide and template for creating your own vision and goals workshop.

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