The 5/23/2014 post, “Vision – Mission – Goal – Target: A Travelogue,” gave a visual representation of those elements.  Today I will discuss how they relate and impact your campus.

There are a lot of people who believe that you must have a vision, then a mission, then a goal, and then a target.  That: 

1 – It is a backwards design process; and  2 – Without having all four, you are lost.  

Both of these beliefs are true in some cases and false in other cases. In practical terms, here is how it works in schools.  

I can make significant and meaningful progress (in the short term) without a vision and mission.  The reason for this is two-fold.  First, as a profession, educators want to do well by their students and please their boss.  We are good people who crave order.  Just doing what comes naturally to us represents steps in the right direction.  Second, the state mandates annual performance goals that force us to adjust our practices towards meeting those goals.  We can argue how those goals are measured, but bottom line we are expected to teach students to a standard.  As we teach to standards, again we make steps in the right decision.

For those that embrace their mandated goals, there is a need to create a slate of interim targets that inform us in the pursuit of goal accomplishment.  For many schools, this is all that is needed in the short to midterm.  But once we build some competence we need more to keep us moving forward.  Just increasing the goal is one way to do this.  But that doesn’t stoke the fire in the belly, at scale.  Now is the time to build that vision and mission. 

Which one you build first is situational.  There are those who first define the mission of the organization and then paint the picture of what the organization aspires to be.  This is a viable solution.  There are those who paint a picture of the vision for organization and then define a mission that supports the vision.  This is a viable solution. 

What I think is the important take away from this discussion is that what is most important on any given day is a clear understanding of the goals and targets of the organization.  What is important for the long-term success of the organization is a clear understanding of the vision and mission.  But this is a crawl, walk, jog, run dynamic.  If your team isn’t ready to consider vision and mission yet, that doesn’t make you a bad leader. But note that the longer it takes to get your team to that level of competence and consciousness does have a negative effect on progressing from survival mode to actualized mode.        Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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