5 Envisioning

The Envisioning step is key to strategic planning. During the Assessment step of the NSDS design process, the main questions were “Where are we now” and “Where are we heading”-  Agreeing on a mission and a vision will help answer respectively: “Where do we want to go”? - Why ?”  and “What can we do”? - How ?” A clear mission and vision, expressed in the form of concise and positive statements, will lead to an inspiring common vision of the future and will set the basis for the development of the strategies. The mission and vision are partially built on assessment results as the assessment will have shown what has to be structurally changed.


A mission statement defines an agency’s or a system’s purpose while encapsulating the mission of national official statistics, as perceived by the country itself. It will instill motivation and pride among staff. The mission for the South Africa statistical agency, for example, is “To lead and partner in statistical production systems for evidence-based decisions”.
In the framework of the NSDS and, in particular, in a centralized statistical system, the mission of the National Statistical Office will clearly reflect that of the entire National Statistical System.


A vision statement communicates what an agency/organisation wants to become. It provides direction, creates interest and commitment among its members and attracts users. The strategic vision of an official statistical system is the desired future of this system at the end of a set horizon. What do we want to become in the longer-term, perhaps 5–10 years from now? The vision statement should accurately transmit this picture. The vision of the UBOS in Uganda, for example,  is "To become a Centre of Excellence in Statistical Production". Obviously, the vision will fully make sense only if strategic measures are taken to realize it, or at least, come closer to it.

After having developed a vision, communicating it is an important step. As with any other phase in the design process, once the relevant decisions are taken, they have to be made known. Every person involved should clearly understand what needs to be done and why. All the more, as with every assignment, every objective will derive from this vision and any new project should be consistent with it. The NSO Director will be responsible in sharing efficiently the vision and creating a sense of ownership around it.



Envisioning in practice

Who and When
If an agreement is reached during the drafting of the NSDS, the description of the role of official statistics and the mission is presented; if new, this might require revision of legislation and regulations.

The design team (see PREPARATION) can make various proposals and submit them for approval to the Steering Committee (see PREPARATION- Building Constituency).

The wording of the vision statement generally seeks to galvanise personnel while remaining within the framework of the previously defined mission statement. It must therefore enjoy a consensus and be driven both by the political leadership and by the technical heads of the system throughout the implementation of the NSDS. There must be no confusion with professional values and ethics, although they are of crucial importance in terms of setting out and carrying out the vision statement.


Prior to crafting the mission statement, it is important for national authorities to know what role they want national official statistics to play in the medium term- in one word, agree on a clear definition of national official statistics ; generally, this is defined in the Statistics Act of the country. For a national statistical agency and especially in a centralized statistical system, the mission will derive from the Statistics Act or any other legislation providing the mandate for statistical activities.

In drafting the vision statement, an agreement should be reached on why a vision is needed, who do we want to attract? How could the agency/system respond to the country’s aspiration and priority needs? For instance, one might aim at building an organisation that meets the expectations of national development policies; provides a high-quality statistical service for all its users; aims to comply with the IMF’s special data dissemination standard; compares well with the best national administrations (internal benchmarking); compares well with the very best systems of the region (a measure of external benchmarking).  

Communicating efficiently the mission and vision to the staff is crucial. Various means can be used within the statistical agency to convey and remind the vision, such as internal memos, cards, posters, presentations, video clips. “Getting the word out” and reflecting the vision and the values it embodies outside the organization – and throughout the entire NSS - is equally important.

Although the length of the statements can vary (from one sentence to a full page) they should be kept simple and attractive. It is their clarity and power that are most important. In particular, the vision could require further development, setting the basis for the definition of the strategies.
When designing a second NSDS, the envisioning can be an adjustment of previously agreed upon mission and vision to take account of emerging trends (big data, international integration, global initiatives...).