If your vision statement looks to the future, the question needs to be asked: how far into the future should we be looking?
If you look too far ahead it can seem too distant and remote: perhaps even beyond the period that most of your staff are even envisaging staying at the institution and thus being considered largely irrelevant by them. The flip side of this is that by looking too close to the present day you do not leave yourself the time required to achieve what should be quite ambitious and challenging goals.
To a certain extent any notion of an ‘ideal period’ will be influenced by the type of institution you are and the nature of the vision you have defined for yourself. For example, a heavily research orientated institution with strong industry links might need to take a longer term perspective than one that is focused more, say, on teaching for vocational purposes. However, so far as it is possible to define a specific ‘ideal period’ we suggest five years to usually be about right. Five years is far enough into the future to allow for profound change to be accomplished, but is near enough at hand for it to generate the momentum and focus required to influence strategic activity within the institution.
At the very least, we would advise reviewing your vision statement every 3-5 years – even if this is just to confirm that it is still relevant and useful – or in the light of any major changes affecting your institution or the sector at large, such as a change in government or a radical change in government’s strategic priorities.