Organisations need to know where they are heading and what they are trying to accomplish and to state this clearly for getting there is dependent on the efforts of a large number of people – not all of whom can just be assumed to instinctively know what the collective goal is.
An institution’s vision statement is thus an articulation of its major goals and ambitions. The organisation which does not articulate its vision for the future will not necessarily fail, indeed it may continue to ‘tick over’ quite nicely, but nor is it likely to thrive. It stands less chance of growing, expanding and improving because it has no clear idea of what direction or form this growth, expansion or improvement should take. Not every good idea can be funded and not every opportunity pursued. Without a clear idea of where the institution is heading there is no sound basis for prioritising these decisions, resulting in an institution which is paddling as hard as it can, but making little real progress.
The institution’s vision statement establishes another aspect of the ‘big picture’. As such, it should be possible to trace a link back to it from all other levels of institutional planning and goal setting. Repeatedly asking the question: ‘how does this help us achieve our vision?’ when setting departmental and faculty-level objectives should help reinforce these links.
Your vision should also be a constant and visible element of your recruitment and selection processes, appearing as part of your initial job advertisement and application pack. By doing so you make a public claim about where you, as an organisation, are heading and therefore the type of people you need to make this happen. Pursuing this idea further, asking candidates either during the written application or interview stage to demonstrate how they would help the institution to achieve it can help ensure that all new staff are aware of the institution’s stated vision and are able to play their part in achieving it.