International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Vision for the water system

Length of Workshop:

Approximately 2 to 3 hours of the first SAP strategic thinking meeting


Initially in plenary to describe the process followed by small breakout groups. After plenary, SAP Development Team members divide into groups of between 3 and 8. Mixed discipline groups work well – ensure that the group members working on this process cover all the areas of expertise needed. In addition to natural scientists, social, legal, political and economic experts will be required. Preferably, the Project Manager will define the working groups prior to the workshop. At the end of the group work, each working group should report back in plenary.


To develop first drafts of potential Vision Statements.

The Task:

Each group:

1. Decide on a facilitator/chair and a rapporteur and ensure all members know each other.

2. The facilitator/chair to ask the group:

i. What are your best hopes for the water system?

ii. How would you like to see the water system in 20 years?

3. The timeframe for answering these questions will vary from project to project. Typically, most projects incorporate a twenty-year timeframe.

4. The facilitator should encourage an open discussion of the questions above and should discourage participants from focusing on “how” issues. The facilitator should also stay clear of any discussion about funding and feasibility since these matters stifle creativity. The “how” questions are typically addressed further into the strategic thinking process.

5. After a short break, the working groups meet again to begin writing a vision statement. Using the responses from the first session, SAP Development team members are asked to write a short one to two paragraph statement on how they would like to see the water system in 20 years .

6. Each group should develop its own statement. Because the statements will ultimately be combined, the groups should not get overly concerned about the quality of the text. At this point, it’s important to flesh out the best hopes for the water system.

Report Back and Discussion:

In plenary, ask for a 5 to 10 minute report from each group. Limit the time for each group and keep a close eye on timekeeping. Allow time for a critical discussion within the group and ensure all comments are captured by a rapporteur.

It might be useful for a second round of group work to incorporate any ideas from the whole group. This would need to be agreed by the project manager, prior to the workshop. If a second round is decided, move team members between working groups.


  • A set of draft ‘vision statements’
  • Annotated list of discussion comments from SAP Development Team