Overview to Vision and Mission Development
Research and practice have demonstrated the important role that vision and mission play in all organizations and associations, or all departments within organizations and associations that are tasked with people development. Developing the vision and promoting it continuously inside and outside of the organization is the most important strategic activity of any effective educational leader. Superintendants, Principals, and deans in academic settings, and chief learning officers, vice presidents, and directors of training in corporate settings should develop a vision that clearly articulates the values, beliefs, purposes, and goals that guide a unified culture of continuous development. Kathryn Whitaker (1994) has called vision “an inspiring declaration of a compelling dream.” Robert Fritz (1996) suggests that when all individuals collectively understand and believe in the “compelling dream” they are motivated to work together to reduce the gap between todays reality and tomorrow’s possibility. Vision can become a common educational culture in both academic and corporate settings, but selling an intangible dream is hard work. The educational leader must “walk” the vision, not just “talk” the vision. Unfortunately, these kinds of leaders are the exception. Leaders who actually live the stated values, beliefs, purposes, and goals will ultimately break down the individual barriers of teachers and students so they can all chase a common compelling dream. Academic and corporate educational leaders sometimes develop a vision of the organization by collaborating with all of the major stakeholders in the organization's community, whose hopes, dreams, expectations, and values contribute to the organization's goals and aspirations. Sometimes, the educational leader is the transformative individual who envisions a higher calling for the organization. He or she creates the compelling dream and then becomes the consistent and persistent voice who heralds the higher calling. The leader’s vision should promote a comprehansive “new way” that includes a creative and dynamic teacher, the appropriate instructional medium (technology), and the student, who makes sense out of concepts by “doing” via engagement with the technology and the instructor (Wenglinsky, 2005). , , 
The Fundamental Basis of a Vision statement
Educational leaders need to have a deep appreciation of cognitive neuroscience and be well read related to the research about how people learn in order to craft their vision and then promote it based on evidence. According to Howard Gardner (2004), each individual learner excels in only two or three “intelligences” or learning styles, that he defines as linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, body-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist.  According to Anders Ericsson (2004), “Deliberate, difficult practice undertaken over a long period of time, while receiving informative feedback, and having opportinities for repitition and correction of errors leads to elite performance.”  Finally, David Kolb (1984) describes learning as a process in which individual knowledge is created through a four-stage cycle of experience that includes concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.  To complicate things even further every student learns at a different pace. Given the preponderance of this kind of evidence, educational leaders should create and promote a vision that is student-centric, emphasizes learning by “doing,” and includes very high performance expectations. A vision that promotes student-centricity needs to be an effective “alchemy” that includes the student, peers, teacher (methodology), and applicable technology so that knowledge creation and construction occurs by making relevant connections to prior student experiences – social, educational and psychological in ways that are connected and immediate (Lomas, C. and Oblinger, D., 2006). 
An organization’s (e.g. primary, secondary, university, or corporate) vision conveys a compelling, conceptual image of the desired future for the organization. It provides inspiration and challenge to all members of the organization towards an ideal of what the organization can become if its collective members (educational leaders, teachers, and students) become intrinsically motivated life-long learners. It should be purposefully articulated to bridge the present and future and to serve as a critical impetus for change.  Briefly, a vision is a concise statement about where the organization needs to be to succeed at some point in the future. 
Specifically, the conceptualized vision should contain two major components. First, a guiding philosophy that describes the core beliefs and values of the organization and its purpose. For example, LL Bean’s stated core beliefs is that “the business will take care of itself” if the organization “sells good merchandise at a reasonable price and if their employees treat customers as if they were genuine friends.” Apple computer’s stated purpose is “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advances humankind.” Second, the vision should contain a tangible mission statement of a clear, compelling, and acheivable goal that strives to unify the organization’s effort. For example, Merck’s stated tangible mission statement in 1979 was to establish their organization as “The preeminent drug-maker worldwide in the 1980s.” 
The properties of a good vision statement
- • Idealistic, but realistic too, envisioning a future that is beyond the present, which everyone in the organization believes is achievable.
- • Appropriate and consistent with the organization’s history and culture. It reflects what already makes the organization unique and recognizes its existing strengths.
- • Clarifies an attractive future purpose and mission that creates meaning in teacher’s lives beyond just getting a paycheck.
- • Sets extraordinary ambitious high standards of excellence or high ideals that challenge teachers and other key stakeholders to achieve levels of performance that they haven’t achieved with students before.
- • Inspires enthusiasm and helps teachers and other key stakeholders get excited about what they are doing to improve student outcomes. It encourages increased commitment to the organization.
- • Is clearly articulated and easily understood by teachers and key stakeholders both inside and outside of the organization. It should capture the essential core beliefs, purpose, and tangible mission of the vision without being too-short or too-long. It needs to be memorable so it can be actionable.
Developing a vision statement
A shared vision is an important component of technology planning. It will have implications for how your organization allocates funding and resources and may redefine the roles that are played by students (employees), teachers (trainers), administrators, and parents (significant others). It is important to note that it is absolutely critical that the technology “vision” is not separate from the collective educational vision of the organization. As mentioned earlier, technology should be applied seamlessly to improve student educational outcomes.
It is difficult to develop a powerful vision statement. Additionally, there is no formula to develop the appropriate vision statement. As mentioned earlier, visions can be co-developed by a group of key stakeholders or it can be developed by a single energetic, imaginative, transformative leader. The danger in visions developed by committee is that the end result can become something-for-everyone, the compromises of which lead to a weak, watered-down, ineffective vision. The danger in visions developed by one individual is that key stakeholders in the organization may not embrace the vision because their “voices” were not considered during the vision development. In either situation, the vision will not be realized unless there is a strong educational leader (superintendents, principals, deans, chief learning officers, vice presidents, and directors of training) who actively promotes a new direction. To help future “visionaries,” we will provide some suggestions below that leaders should consider when developing a vision statement. , 
- • Learn everything you can about your organization. That means getting out of the hierarchical ivory tower and getting into the trenches with your teachers and the students who they serve. , 
- • Bring your organization’s key internal and external stakeholders into your visioning development process. This committee needs to be carefully considered and populated with stakeholders who are early adopters with a bias for action. A thoughtful “seeding” of any visioning committee will help limit analysis paralysis and recycling the same old tired discussions. ,  The visioning exercise available from the Department of Education and Training in New South Wales (Austrailia)  suggests conducting visioning exercises with key stakeholders which helps build a sense of ownership, commitment and sustainability within the educational organization. The purpose of the visionary exercise is to brain storm the possibilities of the future - the main question being where are we going? Some of the questions that are wrestled with during the visionary exercise include those listed below. S.W.OT. analysis can also be conducted after this reflective questioning process by breaking into small groups and, in the light of the gathered data, the group can determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities to take advantage of a changing environment and possible threats. Look for areas of agreement, as well as different ideas that emerge. The goal is to find language and imagery that your group’s members can relate to as their vision for future. , 
- o What’s our future time frame? Three years? Five years?
- o What trends in education today can positively or negatively impact our plans?
- o What are the limits of our existing technology, facilities, resources, funding, and expertise?
- o Will our vision be obsolete by the time we change direction?
- o Will our vision be impacted by private competition, government oversight or new regulation?
- o Is our vision scalable beyond the pilot?
- o How will the long-term economic climate effect our long-term technology, facilities, resources, and personnel implementation plan?
- o Will our students' (employees') needs change? How?
- • Keep an open mind as you explore options. Don’t be constrained by the organization’s current direction or be discouraged by the “it’s the way we have always done it” attitude that is sure to surface. , 
- • Understand and appreciate the existing organization vision (particularly if you are new to the organization). Don’t throw out good ideas that are working just because you didn’t create them.
- • Look outside of your own organization to learn, adopt, and then import visionary educational ideas. Visit other academic or corporate learning organizations and study what they are doing differently. Read their research and steal their good ideas. 
An examples of a vision statement
- Vision statement for Sample Organization (school). 
- To provide a stimulating learning environment with a technological orientation across the whole curriculum, which maximises individual potential and ensures students of all ability levels are well equipped to meet the challenges of education, work and life.
- Our vision is that children leave school with:
- • A set of spiritual and moral values – honesty, integrity and good judgement.
- • A complement of basic skills – linguistic, mathematical, scientific, artistic, physical and social.
- • An enquiring and discriminating mind and a desire for knowledge.
- • Strong self-esteem and high personal expectation.
- • Tolerance and respect for others.
- We value the partnership which exists between school, parents and community and the part it plays in realising this vision.
- Education World: The educator”s best friend. Available at, http://www.education-world.com/a_admin/admin/admin044.shtml. Accessed on October 24, 2009
- Wenglinsky H. Using Technology Wisely: The Keys to Success in Schools. Teacher College, Columbia University. New York and London. 2005.
- Gardner H. Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. Twentieth anniversary edition. Perseus Books Group. New York. 2004
- Ericsson KA (2004). Deliberate practice and the acquisition and maintenance of expert performance in medicine and related domains. Academic Medicine. Vol. 79, No 10: S70-S81
- Kolb DA. Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice Hall PTR. New Jersey. 1984
- Student practices and their impact on learning spaces. Retrieved on November 22, 2008 from http://www.educause.edu/Chapter5.StudentPracticesandTheirImpactonLearningSpaces/11903
- Air University. The intelectual and leadership center of the Air Force. Available at http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ndu/strat-ldr-dm/pt4ch18.html. Accessed on October 24, 2009
- Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan version 2.0, prepared by Graduate Students at Mississippi State University participating at TKT 8763- Seminar in Planning for Instructional Technology, Spring 1996
- Strong, B. (2007). Strategic Planning for technological Change. Educause Quarterly.