Every organisation, school or group seems to have a Vision and/or Mission to guide its activities and goals but sadly there is often a disconnect. It becomes a plaque on a wall, a catch phrase for marketing or a throw away line at major events. There is no question that Vision and Mission are important but how do we make them meaningful? We suggest you replace your Vision and Mission.

Lets firstly clarify the difference between Vision and Mission

The vision statement tends to focus on tomorrow and what the organisation wants to become. It will tend to respond to questions such as: What are your hopes and dreams? What problem are we solving for the greater good? Who and what are we inspiring to change? It will focus on growth and what matters most to the future of the group.

The mission statement focuses on today and what the organisation or school actually does. It will tend to respond to questions such as: What do we do? Whom do we serve? How do we serve them?

Maybe it is time to replace your vision and mission with a driver that makes a greater difference.

Replace your Vision and Mission

While companies commonly use mission and vision statements interchangeably, it’s important to have both.

On a daily operational basis however, my challenge to you is to replace Vision and Mission with something more tangible.

Our frank advice is to leave your vision and mission on the wall but in practice replace it with a guiding question.

Replace your Vision and Mission
Use a guided question

“Will this action, activity, decision, project, purchase or direction….. <insert key vision words> “

It is important to operationalise a vision and mission to make sure we truly embrace it. The ideas must be grounded and relevant for all.

Let’s clarify what this actually looks like in practice:

A committee is debating the pros and cons of a very important decision. They are swinging backwards and forwards, including discussion about how to operationalise the plan. It has a budget attached to it, it requires investment of time and might require prioritising as compared to other initiatives. Some key members are passionate and determined, others are objecting and there are many in the middle not sure what steps to take.

The chairperson takes a pause and reminds all stakeholders of “the guiding question that should determine all that we do”.

Suddenly the decision making gets easy……

Here is an example:

Company: Tesla

Mission: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Vision: To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.

A Guiding Question: Will this action, activity, decision, project, purchase or direction deliver sustainable energy practices? (Example only)

Replace your Vision and Mission and make it a key guiding question that is more relatable and tangible.

For a school it might look like this:

Mission: Valuing Our Future – Maximising Potential

Vision: To ensure all children have a clear personal mission of a preferred future and they engage in ways that maximise their potential to achieve it

Guiding Question: Will this action, activity, decision, project, purchase or direction maximise student potential?

The next challenge I pitch to you is to consider what values will underpin your practices. You might have rules, policies and procedures but there must be a belief system that drives good decision making and aligns behaviours. Sadly many organisations are quick to create handbooks and bound rule books that are inches thick but if our touch point is a value system then this is far more effective than “let me check in our handbook” approach to operations. When a challenge, decision or opportunity enters your mind you should automatically process first steps through the use of a guiding question and filtered by actions guided by an agreed value system.

A set of values will become the foundation that shapes how we behave ethically and what our personal behaviours look like, in order to achieve vision and mission. Replace your Vision and Mission with a guiding question.

Here is an example of core values from Apple (1981):

  • One person, one computer.
  • We are going for it and we will set aggressive goals.
  • We are all on the adventure together.
  • We build products we believe in.
  • We are here to make a positive difference in society, as well as make a profit.
  • Each person is important; each has the opportunity and the obligation to make a difference.
  • We are all in it together, win or lose.
  • We are enthusiastic!
  • We are creative; we set the pace.
  • We want everyone to enjoy the adventure we are on together.
  • We care about what we do.
  • We want to create an environment in which Apple values flourish.

Here is an example from a GSE School (Kingsgate) :

School Values
Core Values

It is essential to create integrity by aligning all that we do with a common purpose. Catch cries just don’t cut it!

We need to operationalise vision, mission and values by ensuring that all we do is guided by common and shared behaviours that look “almost the same, most of the time.”

Global Services in Education (GSE) is highly focussed on making a difference. In fact we are education and investment advisors to a number of education groups, schools, investors, investment funds and start up groups with a mission to improve the quality of education in all regions of the world.

CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry

Greg Parry

Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for edu-cation institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.

Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals throughout the world in areas such as critical thinking, language development and leadership. His expertise in school start up projects, leadership and curriculum development, has made him a sought after authority in these disciplines.

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