A Reader Asks… Vision, Mission, Goal, Target – Part 1

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In response to the 5/22/14 post, “Vision – Mission – Goal – Target: A Travelogue,” a LYS Assistant Superintendent asks:

SC,

Okay, I’m in the middle of a hornet’s nest!!  I need input from you regarding yesterday’s (5/22/14) blog post.  Our district has a vision of (MASKED TO MAINTAIN CONFIDENTIALITY).  We are doing some work with our principals about vision for their campus.  Should the campuses have a separate vision that supports the district vision or should all campuses share the same district vision????  

Thanks for weighing in!!

SC Response Excellent question.  And I think the answer for your district (large, diverse, over 30 campuses) is different than the answer for the small district.

Let’s tackle the small district answer first.  This is the one high school, one or two middle schools, and one to three elementary schools district. In this case the district and the campus visions should be very similar.  The district has the ultimate vision for students and in a small district that vision reflects the reality of the few schools in the district.

This is a significant strength of the small organization, there is less opportunity for vision/mission divergence.

Now the large district is different.  Yes, there is still a district vision, but the campuses are a heterogeneous mix of different communities, students and staff.  Therefore, the all encompassing, everyone in lockstep vision is a myth.  Instead, what you what is big picture understanding of purpose coupled with small picture understanding of operational parameters.  This means that the campus vision may be different than the organizations, but the campus vision must directly correlate with the district vision and campus progress in fulfilling the vision furthers the district in its vision quest.

A lot of words for a mushy explanation, so I’ll give you a concrete example.  Let’s take a district with two high schools, one with a very affluent student population and one with a very poor student population. Not an unusual scenario. 

Now in our example the district’s vision is, “Producing graduates that make a difference.” 

The campuses could co-opt that vision and there would be nothing wrong with that. Or based on the campuses unique mix of students, community, staff, resources and leadership there may need to be a variation of that vision.  The affluent campus may look at the district vision and its own mix of operating parameters and may realize that its mission should be, “Enter the student. Exit the World Class scholar.”

The strength of this vision is that it drives that particular campus and in the pursuit of that vision, the campus is also helping the district pursue its vision.

Now let’s consider the economically disadvantaged campus.  That campus could look its mix of operating parameters and develop this vision, “Always compete.”  Again, the strength of this vision is that it drives the campuses forward and in doing so propels the district forward.

The district vision creates a destination; the campus vision creates a logical pathway to that destination.

I hope this helps, or maybe I just should have answered, “It’s complicated.”

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