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Reflection – David Gui

by on October 31, 2007

In one of the earlier classes we talked about how organizational vision and mission can impact systemic change. To me, a change requires clarity in where the organization needs to go and why; vision and mission statements, therefore, should clearly point out the “where” and “why” which can lead the organization to the desired future. A lot of the times, however, as new needs for change arise, the original vision and mission are no longer relevant to current conditions; thus an organization’s documented visions simply become obsolete over time. However, rather than becoming insignificant, an organization’s visions should really always remain living maps pointing to the future.

In my opinion, many vision and mission statement do not accomplish much. Often organizations pay a lot of attention to perfection of the end products of vision and mission statements but ignore the values in processes of creating them. To me, the final written documents are much less important than the processes by which they are created; also, for many organizations, their written statements are prepared by an individual or small group, which I think can miss the real mark. For an organization to move forward systematically a vision of the future is more importantly in the hearts and minds of those who are impacted and therefore it is effective to involve as many members of the organizations as possible when creating vision and mission. My opinion is that simply writing vision and mission down does not matter that much, only living and sharing them does, thus the process of producing them is significant. Organizations should be aware that most people would not subscribe to someone else’s vision without an experience which connects.

As the written statements must be relevant to current conditions, it is beneficial that they also provide a clear picture what the future looks like after the change is implemented, as it must reflect what the leadership expects to get out of the change. And this is yet another reason why vision and mission should be generated based upon ideas contributed by every impacted stakeholder. That way, the vision and mission can be really shared among organization members, the expected future state is better understood, and commitment is built to that.
So, when organizations decide to implement a major change, perhaps it is also time for them to take out vision and mission statements, review them, and determine if they are still relevant to current conditions and consistent with the intended change. If not, a revision of the statements may be necessary. Also, regardless if it has to be a major revision or just minor changes, involve as many people as possible in the process. Because, really, having just an individual or a small group developing the vision and mission can miss the point, and many times, that point can be critical.

References:
So, You want to be a Change Agent. http://advice.cio.com/peter_manni/so_you_want_to_be_a_change_agent

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