It would be easy in a resource such as this to allow discussions (or indeed arguments) over terminology to dominate proceedings and to prevent proper progress being made. As with all things, it is, of course, important that there is clarity over what is being referred to, otherwise there can be no understanding; but, by the same token, this does not mean that everyone must agree with every term chosen in order to make use of this guide.
Terms such as ‘mission statements’, ‘vision’ and ‘values’ are not fixed and absolute and it is inevitable that what one institution may currently think of as a ‘vision’ may be construed by another as part of their ‘values’. Likewise, the content of one institution’s ‘mission statement’ may be remarkably similar to another’s ‘value set’. This really doesn’t matter – call each what you will according to what you believe will have the greatest resonance for your institution. What does matter are the concepts which these various terms describe and the importance of ensuring that each are addressed appropriately – whatever they may be called.
So please bear this in mind when reading the rest of the contents of this guide and focus on the underlying concepts, rather than the relative suitability of the particular name that we have chosen to define it by.
The institutional experience
"We had to take account of the mission, vision and values of our parent organisation. It may be the case that these areas are outside of the remit of the people using the kit1 – this needs to be made clear when using the kit by whoever is coordinating the use of the kit so that time is not wasted trying to change what cannot be changed – however mapping ‘what this means for us’ was a useful exercise.
The question we asked was: 'Given the values of our parent organisation what is the unique contribution that Beaumont College can bring?'. We thought the section on mission, vision and values helped clarify a number of issues for the team and in completing the exercises focussed people’s attention on ‘future talk’ which was energising and helpful. It brought to light shared assumptions which were interesting to articulate given the different range of experiences of different team members.
The exercises also brought to light the complexity of aligning the college's strategy with that of the parent organisation. Going through the process helped to reinforce once again the importance of clarity in this key area, particularly with regard to governance. A particular point of interest to the principal was feeding back to governors on the use of the infoKit and how sophisticated the process was and how it had already begun to develop confidence and competence in the leadership team in handling concepts like mission and vision."
- 1 Reference to infoKit, as this guide was originally labelled on the Jisc infoNet website