These are things we talk a lot about in corporate communications. If businesses, large or small, don’t get it right, they waffle and lose direction. That’s often when more focused companies swoop in and take away their marketshare.
Before I relate the importance of Vision, Mission, and Values to teaching, let’s look at Hilton’s example. You can click on the screen shot to go directly to Hilton’s page detailing these attributes. Their Vision statement is appropriately aspirational: “To fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.” That’s awesome! As a former road warrior for GE and Boeing, a well-lit, welcoming Hilton Hotel was an oasis after a long journey.
Typically, Mission Statements tell why the organization exists (its purpose in life), and usually they imply a goal. Hilton’s Mission is to “be the preeminent global hospitality company – the first choice of guests, team members, and owners alike.” You can recognize Mission Statements because they’re easily supported by objectives, which in corporatespeak must be measurable. Thus, Hilton undoubtedly has metrics for financial performance and for satisfaction targets among its guests, team members, and owners. [Note how Hilton implies that happy team members make for happy customers.]
Coca-Cola has an interesting mission: “to refresh the world.” Quantitative and qualitative data informs Coca-Cola whether it is hitting that mark. Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” That’s a BIG mission! However, if you look at Google’s business decisions over the last three years (development of GoogleEarth and purchase of YouTube), you can see these decisions are aligned with Google’s stated mission.
Besides Vision, which is long-range and aspirational, and Mission, which is purposeful and nearer-term, companies hold true to Values, which I think are as fundamental as Vision and Mission. You hire, train, and reward people according to a company’s values. They are the conscience that weighs on all important decisions, such as whether to acquire a company with a contrarian culture, or not.
Hilton’s values are hospitality, integrity, leadership, teamwork, ownership, and now. As you can see if you go to Hilton’s website, each value is explained by a simple sentence. For example, its rather unusual value of “now” means, “We operate with a sense of urgency and discipline.” That’s critical when it comes to guest safety and customer service. Tomorrow is too late. Hilton is pledging through its values that it acts quickly and with rigor.
You can see from the above that Vision, Mission, and Values are easily translatable to any district, school, classroom, or teacher.
My vision is to educate and inspire students to objectively understand the lessons of history and be informed citizen-agents in the world they will inherit.
My mission is three-fold: 1) to encourage kids to think, 2) to encourage kids to care – about the past, the present, the future, and each other; and 3) to create a classroom climate that encourages discovery; that makes sense out of history and shows connection and relevance; that fosters inquiry, embraces and accommodates diversity, respects different opinions and historical perspectives, and is fun; and that meets state standards while recognizing the performance of every individual and team in my class.
My values are expressed in a commitment to always be…
Professional – in my dealings with students, parents, teammates, administrators, and the community
Informed – well-read in my subject, current on the latest trends and news, and an active participant in pedagogy, learning technologies and professional associations
Curious – so that I never get stale and am always inquisitive, always learning
Passionate – in hopes my love of history is contagious and that I never bore my students
Engaging – communicating with my students, not to them
Humble - checking my ego at the door (who needs it?!); forgetting self so I can be an active listener, and…
In the moment – disallowing distraction; concentrating, and being happily engaged with whatever lesson I am teaching and whose company surrounds me.
Full disclosure: I won’t live up to this Vision, Mission, and Values all the time. There will be weak moments; everyone has them. But I am determined to give it my utmost, because these words are my moral compass. It is who I am and what I promise.