“If you do a good job of teaching your values and mission to the people at the bottom of your organization, then once you give them control, they will do the right things with it.” (Charlene Li, 2010)
Working with school districts all over the world, one of the things that I have noticed is an abundance of mission and vision statements within one organization. There could be one at the district level, then at school levels, and even different departments (technology vision, curriculum vision, etc.). Often people wonder why there is no cohesion within an organization, but don’t realize that the leadership is often inundating people with too much information.
One cohesive vision for an organization is hard enough to make a reality, let alone two or three.
In 2011, Parkland School Division moved away from the “multiple-vision” model, and went to one vision. It was not implemented with a top down approach, but with input from all levels, and was co-created. Ownership of a vision is more likely to make it become a reality.
The vision is as follows:
“Parkland School Division is a place where exploration, creativity, and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.”
Although the vision is compelling, without action it is meaningless. The focus is not on repeating the vision over and over again (although that does help), but on helping others to make it become a reality. As one of our superintendents said at the time, the goal is to help every individual realize that they are part of making this vision come to life within the larger purpose of the organization; it is not meant to separate but to bring people together. How the vision looks in one classroom, can look different in another area. The autonomy is in the delivery but the vision brings together a shared purpose.
It doesn’t make much sense for educators to move within an organization and faced with a change of “vision” each time they have a new position. Each community is unique but a great vision binds people together for a common goal.
In my opinion, a vision should have some common elements:
Short and succinct.
Flexibility in delivery.
Input from community.
If I asked someone in your organization what the vision was, and they responded with either “I don’t know what it is”, or “which one?”, then those “words” are not worth the paper (or website) they are written on.
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