One of the most significant pressures leaders face today is creating a clear, bold vision of the future. And for a good reason–a clear strategic direction is the foundation for any great focused strategic plan.
That pressure intensifies for leaders creating vision statements for brand new teams or organizations.
We recently worked with the leadership team in the Engagement Division at Cleveland Metropolitan School District. We were impressed by their team’s focus on creating a great vision statement.
And boy, they didn’t disappoint.
Vision Statements in a New Organization
One of the most significant challenges they faced was creating a vision (and mission) statement from scratch. The School District’s Engagement Division encompasses communications, attendance, customer, experience, enrollment, and school choice as a brand-new division. It’s a model they’re pioneering in the School District’s organizational structure.
Engagement Division Vision – Our Aspiration
CMSD is the number one choice in Cleveland; families enroll and remain with the District because they feel welcomed, valued, supported, and meaningfully engaged as partners in students’ success.
So, why is visioning in a new organization challenging? And how do you overcome it? Here are a few quick notes we took away from our work with CMSD:
Challenge: Where do you go when you don’t have a deep history to examine where you’ve been?
Solution: Think about your core purpose and what impact you want to make in the future. The Engagement Division was thoughtful about what impact they want to make for their organization and what their perfect vision of the future looks like – being the #1 choice for schools in Cleveland.
Challenge: How do we have a clear vision statement that’s short and direct when we haven’t had a direction before?
Solution: The Engagement Division’s vision statement is a great example of a longer vision statement that still has a great impact. We love visions that can fit on a t-shirt, but it’s okay to have a longer vision statement if it better suits and guides your organization.
Challenge: How do you know the difference between your mission and vision statements when you’re just starting?
Solution: We often see leaders struggle with the difference between mission and vision. They work together, but each does have a distinct purpose. Here’s an easy way to remember the difference–mission statements explain why you exist; vision statements describe where you’re going in the future.