Taking a road trip

Articulating a compelling vision can be challenging if people don’t agree about what it means to create a vision.  How does a vision differ from a mission statement?  Where do values fit in? What should I say about detailed goals?

road trip free to useThe folks at Authenticity Consulting have proposed a simple analogy that can help get everyone on the same page. The chart below is adapted from their materials comparing the change planning process to a family road trip. I’ve found it to be useful when working with project teams.

Strategic Change Planning

Road Trip Planning

Vacation Examples

Work Examples

Mission Why we are traveling Relaxation, strengthening family ties, educational experiences Develop a new-hire orientation for the MnSCU system
Vision Where we want to end up and what we will be doing at our ultimate destination Participate in Aunt Carol’s wedding, explore the Appalachian trail, camping at Yellowstone New hires understand how their role fits into the big picture
Values Priorities for how we will carry out the trip Have fun, meet new people, make sure everyone gets to do one thing from their “bucket list” New hires see themselves as part of a system, not just employees of one institution
Goals Major steps along the way Overnight stop in St. Louis Content drafted by June 1, Board approval in August
External factors Influencers that we cannot control Weather, road conditions When and where new staff members are hired
Internal factors Influencers that we can control Requesting vacation time approval, using licensed drivers, car tune-up Content of orientation program, delivery methods

Like any road trip, it’s helpful to remember that a vision is not cast in stone. Yesterday morning I was discussing this issue with our talent management steering committee.  People said that they can struggle with creating a vision because they don’t yet know what the future will be, or they don’t have specific details.  It’s true that a vision comes early in the process and within higher education that means there is a lot more consulting to be done!

It helps to think of a vision as describing where we want to end up.  It should get people excited and working to move things forward.  Discussing the pros and cons of driving versus flying, deciding how many stops to make along the way, and scheduling how long the trip will be can come later.

–Dee Anne Bonebright


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