Updated: Jan 7
All journeys begin with a destination. Your continuous improvement journey is no different. In continuous improvement planning, your destination is encapsulated by your mission, vision, and values. These three key elements of the strategic planning process help your team to ground itself in clear and focused way. Before you can determine who you want to be you must first clarify who you are. In this post, I want to explore these three key elements and help you get started on your improvement planning journey.
Your mission statement tells the world who you are and what you do. It is a short, one to two sentence statement that encapsulate the core elements of your work. Your mission statement should be present focused and help to articulate the what and how of your work. A well crafted mission statement will help both internal and external stakeholders better understand who you are.
Your vision tells the world what you hope to accomplish. When working with clients on vision development, I always start with this question: If your work is successful, what will the world look like? Your vision is future focused and helps to articulate the why behind your mission. A well crafted vision statement will help internal and external stakeholders understand what you hope to accomplish and serve as the hook that they need to get onboard.
Your value statement is a list of the core principles that you bring to you work. While some organizations choose to craft a full statement, others simply opt for a list of three to five core values that penetrate your work. They key to a successful values statement is to be sure you select values that you can demonstrate and live through your daily operations. This is not a places to be aspirational. This is a time to take a real hard look at what your organization believes in. A well crafted values statement helps internal and external stakeholders know what you really care about and how you might approach the work at hand.
Crafting your Statements
When its time to begin your improvement planning process, it is always good to start with a review of your mission, vision, and values. If you already have these statements in place then you should begin by revisiting them. I like to put them up on posters around the room and give my team time to check in with the statements. Using sticky notes, I have my team go around and record thoughts or feelings on the notes and post them on the posters. Then, we can debrief those thoughts and make sure that the statements still feel right. If they don’t feel right, then we can engage in a conversation about updating them.
If your team doesn’t already have a mission, vision, and values statement, now is the time to create one. I start each conversation with one of the prompts below. Then, with my team, we do a live editing session where we work through the prompts until we shape the statements into something that feels right. Sometimes this can take a couple of sessions, as the word-smithing can get in the way. Sometimes its best to end the session and appoint one person to tinker with the statements until you can return and revisit them.
Here are the prompts I usually start with:
Mission: At (organization name) we (do stuff) in order to (make stuff happen).
Vision: When we are successful, the world will be…
Values: At the heart of our work are…
Examples of Mission, Vision, and Values Statements
I always think it is helpful to look at the mission, vision, and values statements of other groups to help get your mind in the game. Here are a handful of statements from education organizations that I think have done a good job modeling quality statements.
The National Education Association:
Mission: Our mission is to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.
Vision: Our vision is a great public school for every student.
Values: These principles guide our work and define our mission:
Equal Opportunity. We believe public education is the gateway to opportunity. All students have the human and civil right to a quality public education that develops their potential, independence, and character.
A Just Society. We believe public education is vital to building respect for the worth, dignity, and equality of every individual in our diverse society.
Democracy. We believe public education is the cornerstone of our republic. Public education provides individuals with the skills to be involved, informed, and engaged in our representative democracy.
Professionalism. We believe that the expertise and judgment of education professionals are critical to student success. We maintain the highest professional standards, and we expect the status, compensation, and respect due all professionals.
Partnership. We believe partnerships with parents, families, communities, and other stakeholders are essential to quality public education and student success.
Collective Action. We believe individuals are strengthened when they work together for the common good. As education professionals, we improve both our professional status and the quality of public education when we unite and advocate collectively.
Data Quality Campaign:
Mission: We advocate to change the role of data to ensure that data works for everyone navigating their education and workforce journeys.
Vision: We envision a world where data is used to drive systemic change, economic mobility, and student success. To make this a reality, families, educators, communities, and policymakers must have the information they need to foster successful journeys through education and the workforce.
Values: People deserve data, We do nothing alone, No ivory-tower thinking, We are realistic visionaries, We practice what we preach.
National Association for Music Educators
Mission: To advance music education by promoting the understanding and making of music by all.
Vision: Leading the world in music education, empowering generations to create, perform, and respond to music.
Community: Collaborating with our family of associations, members, and partners to carry out our mission.
Stewardship: Empowering volunteerism and strategically developing leadership, fostering a spirit of accountability, and a culture of giving of our time, talents, and resources.
Comprehensiveness: Uplifting the human spirit by providing opportunities for all students to create, perform, respond, and connect to all styles of music.
Inclusion and Equity: Building strength and promoting diversity in a profession representing the wide spectrum of people and cultures, abilities, economic backgrounds, and gender identities
Innovation: Enhancing music teaching and association program management through combining effective and dynamic new practices with proven strategies in the context of our changing global community.
I hope this short post has given you some food for thought as you begin your next continuous improvement planning cycle. Make sure you take time to have these power mission, vision, and values conversations with your improvement teams early in your time together. That will ensure that your teams are working together and moving in the right direction. For more resources about how you can drive continuous improvement in your school, check out the free resources available in The Repository or the other posts featured in this blog. I hope you will find them helpful. Good luck on your journey friends!