One vision to rule them all?

I had the pleasure of supporting a MAT develop their vision:

‘Life is a journey and nobody’s path is certain in this rapidly changing world. Together we are stronger…’ We will guide and inspire you along the way. When you let go of our hand, you and I will know that you will choose the path that is best for you.’

‘Let the journey begin.’

When forced academisation was on the cards I’d been mulling over:

Should MATs/academy chains/federations have one vision for all of them?

I was torn. My business background says yes, at John Lewis we had one vision across all of our branches.

But from working in schools this felt uncomfortable.

When one vision works

I’ve worked in the public and private sector and I think one vision over a number of organisations can work. I spent many years as a senior business leader in the wonderful John Lewis and we had one vision for the business.

So, one vision can work.

However there is a catch: like all retailers John Lewis has a target customer – a demographic it wants to walk into its stores and serve. And so John Lewis can have one vision which serves that customer.

MacDonald’s has a target audience. So does Apple. All retailers do and they set up shop where those people are.

I believe as long as there is a key unifying theme you can have one vision. However ‘children’ or ‘teachers’ or ‘schools’ is not a big enough unifying theme. Demographic would be.

Where one vision doesn’t work

In academies or MATs where perhaps the schools are together because of geography I think having one vision could do more harm than good. You see these schools will more than likely:

  • Serve different communities
  • Be operating with very different budgets
  • Have very different levels of pupil premium children, EAL and other variables

And more!

Trying to get one vision that actually works over such a diverse range of contexts isn’t possible unless you go for a vision that doesn’t work (what I call a ‘vanilla vision’).

What was great about the MAT I supported write the vision above is that this was a vision for their MAT, but each school would have its own vision, their own individual flavour.

The bigger issue is that most schools and academies don’t have visions that work. They are tick box visions – not because people are lazy or daft, but most people don’t know how to create a powerful vision, one that inspires action and breathes energy into your school.

A bad vision does little for you, but a great one gets your team on your bus and chomping at the bit to achieve it. If you think you need to get your vision in shape check out my free e-course on how to create a compelling vision: http://ukheadsup.com/great-vision-free-ecourse/