Friday, September 3, 2010

Begin With the End in Mind

Beginnings are scary sometimes. They can be filled with uncertainty and questions. What is going to happen next? Where do we begin? Who is going to handle what tasks and when and how? Questions like this need to be answered, that is for sure, but there are other, more important questions that can remove some of the doubt and uncertainty and lead to efficiency and goal attainment.
Coming into a new situation or looking in from the outside, sometimes things appear disorganized, as if there is no direction. Remember that old saying about the chicken running around with its head cut off? Does your
organization or team look like that? Everyone has an idea of what they think should be done and they work inside their little bubbles to accomplish what they believe is the best approach. Small teams of people or even individuals work themselves to the bone to make progress; and while they may be achieving their personal goals or small tasks on a daily basis, the big picture is somehow lacking. People end up working against the current….and each other. Relationships are damaged. Communication breaks down. And the result is an ineffective, and therefore, unsuccessful team.
Think instead about the people with whom you work. What do you have in common? You are all bound by a common mission, the mission of your organization. In our organization, the common mission is to educate kids. By simplifying the organization to a single common thread, it makes it easy for relationships to be built, goals to be set, and plans to be made. We are all here for the same reason. Any differences aside, we have at least one thing in common that drives us all. We all want to see our students be successful.
How do we make it happen? Through a vision. By beginning with an end in mind. What results do we want from all of our efforts? What will it look like? Working backwards, how can we get there as a team? No success was ever achieved without first a goal being in place. Once the goal is set, the plan can be made. It takes the ideas and efforts of everyone on a team to make a realistic, visionary plan and to successfully carry it out. As a favorite movie character of mine once said, “Without a plan there’s no attack. Without attack, no victory!”
Working together on the big tasks and the small, we must always take a moment to think about our vision. As we begin a new school year, let’s keep our eye on the prize: successful students who are invested in their education and a community that supports them.

- Karen

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