Seeing What You Can’t See

A long-term vision is as important as a mission statement to the success of your parochial school.  Casting a vision for your school is similar to planning a vacation.

Before your travel companions (spouse or friends) will accompany you on a vacation, you must tell them where you are going, what you will do there, and when you will leave and return.  That makes sense because everyone needs to budget for the expenses, know what to pack, and arrange for time off.  Once they agree to participate, it is necessary to negotiate some changes to the plan so that everyone will be happy.  Through this process, you have just predicted the future and gathered support for your vision of what a great vacation could be.

You also have a strategy for your vacation (refresh old relationships, draw the family closer together, have some ‘just us time’, etc.).  You use your strategy to sell the vacation to your traveling companions.  You will also use it to ensure that everyone has a good time and that everyone will help everyone else have a good time.

Once you have the vision and strategy for the vacation agreed upon, it is time to create the vacation plan (strategic plan).  The activities will be centered around the location, the purpose or strategy, and the time and resources available.  However, the vacation plan is just a loose outline.  Once you arrive on site, it may be necessary to move an activity from one day to another because of weather, availability, etc.  The detailed plans must be created or re-confirmed a few hours before they are used.

Creating a vision for your mission serves the same purpose.  Your stakeholders need to know the vision before they can provide enthusiastic support.  The strategy helps you determine what activities to include and exclude.  The strategy also reassures the stakeholders that it is possible to fulfill the vision.  Again, with the vision and strategy established it is possible to create the strategic plan, which is nothing more than the implementation plan for the vision and strategy.

The major difference between the vacation and the vision for your mission is the timetable.  Vacations are usually planned a few months in advance.  Visions should look out 5 or more years.  In either case, it is easy to think of all of the things that might happen that would ruin the plans.

Most of us are enthusiastic about taking a vacation.  We tend to start the process by looking at the reason to have a vacation then handle the hurdles as the planning proceeds. However, many times parochial schools put off creating a vision, strategy, and strategic plan because of what might happen.  The same person who would enthusiastically embrace taking a vacation with all of its unknowns might block visioning because of a comparable list of unknowns.  When this happens, the person is telling you that your vision, strategy, or plan is less compelling than is necessary to win support.  In other words, if you want their support, you must do a better job of touching their hearts.

Next Step:

Create and sell your vision to key stakeholders

Create and sell your strategy to key stakeholders

Create and sell you strategic plan to key stakeholders

Share your vision, strategy, and strategic plan openly

Share your visions with others.  Your vision is something exciting and important that you and your school are doing for the community.  Besides wanting to know the news, many people in your community will want to help you because of the importance of your vision for your community.  Those new supporters will add to the sustainability of your funding stream, volunteer base, and referrals.

Be prepared to negotiate at each step to ensure that everyone is onboard and remains onboard.  Remember the adage, “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go strong, go with others.”  The purpose of a vision is to help others see what only you can see and build the support necessary to bring your vision into reality, strengthen your community, and increase the sustainability of your mission.

Take It Further:

Ensure some of the stakeholders you collaborate with are some of the usual naysayers (winning them over ensures that you will have a broad support base)


Comments are closed.