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That Vision/Mission/Core Values Thing

by Glenn Lang

– Over my career in government and higher education I have witnessed that staff in their planning and proposal preparation place their primary focus and energy on writing goals and objectives and never expending effort on considering who they are and what they stand for. I became acutely aware of this during my dissertation research when I was visiting a college during its strategic planning process. I was interviewing the president and questioning him about how the process was unfolding. His response (re)shaped my thinking about planning and influenced how I moved forward for the remainder of my career. To summarize, it was important to devote at least 50% of the planning process to three areas: mission, vision, and our core values. Once there was clarity and consensus around these then everything else will easily fall in place.

Three arrows pointing to vision, mission and core values

Articulating a clear vision, mission and understanding of an organizations or unit’s core values are essential to effective leadership. Too often leaders and managers obsess over developing goals and objectives without first considering the big picture. Vision, what do we aspire to be, to do? Mission, what is our purpose? Core values, what do we believe? Clarity on these three provides a north star for an organization and its units, activities, and programs, the types of staff, how staff interacts and how clients and customers are valued. Stay tuned for more as we take a deeper dive.