Ben Davis explores the idea of One Vision
“One flesh, one bone, one true religion
One voice, one hope, one real decision
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Give me one vision, yeah”
If you know the song (good grief, it’s from 1985!!), you have to sing it in your head (or out loud). I can’t help this song invading my head when I think about vision but I also find it a fascinating aspect to ponder.
It is universally accepted that it is important for organisations to have a clear vision. But the waters can get murky when we think about vision, mission statements, aims, ethos… things can become a bit mixed up and clarity is lost. There are plenty of definitions available to help explain, but we all have busy, consuming jobs in education, so we don’t really have the time or energy to try and remember which is which.
In the blog about values, it was noted that it is important to define what values are before we can start to understand and adopt them. Simon Sinek offers a great way to define and understand the purpose of a vision. It is what we have adopted in our Trust.
He puts forward the notion of a just cause which is linked to the ‘why’:
A Just Cause is linked to our WHY, our noble purpose for being. Our WHY comes from our past—it is our origin story and it is who we are. Our Just Cause is our WHY projected into the future. It describes a future state in which our WHY has been realized. It is a forward looking statement that is so inspiring and compelling that people are willing to sacrifice to see that vision advanced.
Simon unpacks this further by identifying 5 key criteria for a just cause. It must be 1) for something, 2) inclusive, 3) service oriented, 4) resilient, and 5) idealistic.
Our just cause, or vision, has to encapsulate our ‘why’… it has to inspire staff and the community. It has to persuade people to stay for the cause. Our people must have a deep understanding of our cause and be willing to be service oriented, resilient and idealistic. Our cause has to form the foundation of everything we do. Therefore, our vision is:
We believe we should create a climate of possibility, built on the foundations of respect, trust and compassion, so that we can improve the life chances for our children and that our school communities can thrive.
It is vital that we are all on board and believe in our vision. For St Martin’s Trust, put simply, the vision is to create a place to thrive. The schools in the Trust have their own vision and their own values, but they align with the Trust. St Martin’s Trust must do its utmost to ensure it achieves its vision so that the schools can thrive: the staff and the children.
Making a vision reality is the hard part. But, as Simon Sinek articulates, that is all part of the ‘infinite game’ we play. This isn’t to belittle the enormity of it all by referring to it as a game, it’s about keeping an eye on the bigger picture, having an infinite mindset as opposed to only focusing on the repeated short-term and outcome driven aspects of our work. Creating a place to thrive is about contributing to making a better society; it is for others and includes everyone. It is all about helping others and has to deal with the knocks of everyday life, and it is certainly idealistic.
Apparently, Queen were inspired by the life and work of Martin Luther King Junior when they wrote One Vision. Not a bad influence when we try to overcome the odds and face times of adversity. As we try to realise our just cause, we all need to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’, as the saying goes. We need to be optimistic and we need support from each other when the going gets tough. We must believe that we can work together as one voice for one vision… yeah.