If this is the sector that was supposed to change the world, why has the world not changed? You may not like the answers we have found to that question. Because it is not the failure to follow best practices that are standing in the way of that change – sometimes it is the “best practice” itself!
So we thought we would share some of the stumbling blocks we have found – Stop Signs along the road to creating an amazing future for our communities and our world. (To see other Stop Signs in this series, just click here.)
This week’s Stop Sign has been a pet peeve of mine for years!
STOP SIGN: Defining Your Organization’s Vision in Terms of Your Organization
A recent conference touted itself as the cutting edge in education for the charitable sector. And here is what I heard a presenter say (She even had a slide that said it, to reinforce her definition):
A Vision Statement is a picture of the future you want for your organization.
I could not believe what I was hearing. In the 21st century, at a conference attended by people from around the world, this drivel was still being taught!
How can we create significant improvement in our communities if our vision is not about our communities?
In a for-profit company, the vision statement defined by the conference presenter makes sense. Self-perpetuation is what such a company is meant to do – to keep creating profits, long into the future, for those who own that company.
But when the purpose of an organization is community benefit, shouldn’t its vision be for that community’s future, rather than its own?
I couldn’t make this up: We have seen a crisis nursery whose vision was to be the best crisis nursery in the state. How about instead a statement that says, “Our vision is a community that doesn’t need a crisis nursery!”
Another one we couldn’t make up is this one: A vision statement that took up an entire page, envisioning the future of a human service organization in minute detail. A full paragraph described what the facility would look like. Another full paragraph described what the programs would be like, and yet another paragraph detailed how the organization would be financially sound. In this entire single-spaced, jam-packed page, the word “client” appeared once, and the word “community” appeared not at all.
We cannot create an amazing future for our communities if that is not the vision we are reaching to attain. A focus on organizational excellence, without that visionary context of community excellence, is yet another Stop Sign on the road to creating the future of our world.
At the Institute, our vision is for a healthy, compassionate, vibrant world. So tell us – what’s your vision? It’s easy – just fill in the blank: Our vision is a community that _______________. Or if your work is global in nature: Our vision is a world that _____________________.
Tell us your dreams! What will the world look like if your work is 100% successful?