As part of its ongoing strategic planning process, the College has created something we call The Visioning Team whose mission is to keep all entities within the institution focused on achieving the strategic goals we've established for ourselves. Creating a vision for an organization, then linking subsequent decisions and strategies to its realization, is much more difficult than corporate management textbooks make it sound. Often, vision falls victim to daily pressures, sudden crises, and a variety of other pressing concerns. But in reality, nothing is more important to the health of an organization than a shared vision and the feeling, by each participant, that he or she is making a key contribution to achieving it.
So we created a visioning team comprised of a nucleus of staffers who were already spending time on activities related to the strategic goals of the College. These were the folks who were measuring progress and then imagining what needs to be done next. The Charter Oak Visioning Team is comprised of four executives and three key directors. Those three directors selected a faculty representative and an additional staffer to bring our total number to nine. We meet every two weeks.
The team's initial challenge was creation of a vision statement. I was more than a little nervous about this. I worried that we wouldn't agree on content, or that we might not be able to find the proper language to clearly express the vision. Well, my worries were for naught. After only two meetings the group created this insightful statement:
Charter Oak State College: A dynamic community of online learners, advancing the nation's workforce one graduate at a time.
This statement is both internally and externally directed. It is aspirational, which means it is meant to be a reach; and it is specific, which means we are trying to grow along a specified path. That is why the team used the word "workforce." If we were a liberal arts college, we would have used a word like "citizenry." But as an adult-serving, degree completion institution, the best descriptor we could find for our audience and for our niche in the world of higher education is WORKFORCE.
We have shared this phrase with students, alums, staff and our faculty. We shared it with the Board at the May meeting, and we will begin using it in our communication. As you receive more of these communications, you will see that we are trying to organize our efforts to make this vision a reality. For example, we have just chosen a company to help us research academic programs so that we can develop new programming that really does "advance the nation's workforce." And the new document scanning system we are purchasing will move more of our work online, making our goal of becoming a "dynamic community of online learners" more accurate within our administrative walls.
You will hear more about both the Visioning Team and our progress in achieving our vision in future posts.