Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Day 26 - Moving from vision to action

This post explores the idea of bringing your vision to life through practical strategies and empowering others. It is written by Rob Clarke and originally appears on

Effective school leaders instinctively grasp the vital importance of a shared, coherent, and inspiring vision for their school. They also grasp, and are able to put into action, the various elements that enable that vision to translate into practice. 

When it is fully manifested, this vision forms the very heart and identity of that community, acting as the foundation for a curriculum and a culture that is responsive and ‘flexes’ to the specific needs and aspirations of everyone involved. This is equally true of the new schools I am involved in as well as those that have existed for a while.

But very often, a school’s vision remains just that – an idea or a set of aspirations that forever remain on the horizon. A significant proportion of schools never quite manage to turn them into reality, and this is not due to any lack of commitment or genuine desire to effect change. Could this be due to a lack of tangible strategies the leadership has to draw from perhaps? Or perhaps it is the mistaken belief that the vision will somehow magically take everyone in the right direction once it has been decided upon and shared.

The successful implementation of a vision does not happen by accident, and the good news is that taking a few simple steps can quickly point you in the right direction and start the process towards transformation.

This transformation begins with the school’s leadership and staff clarifying its vision and the goals that support the realisation of the vision, then taking action consistent with those goals. By then designing and implementing defined, measurable strategies and actions, the school has the ability to mobilise the whole school community towards achieving its fullest potential. Indeed one of the workshops we offer ‘Developing Your School Vision’ enables leaders and their teams to identify the goals and behaviours they choose which will take them closer to this vision.

David Taylor (2014) describes some of the practical steps in effecting change management, from initiating a formal plan, discussing and revising ideas, to establishing how progress will be measured, anticipating problems and ensuring all the necessary resources and supports are in place along the way. Crucially, he also notes the critical role of communication throughout this process, which he sees as the key predictor of success in effecting change.

“As leaders, if we do not communicate clearly to inspire the correct [I prefer the words ‘consistent and/or ‘aligned’ rather than the term ‘correct’...] actions and behaviors, our visions and all related initiatives will fail.” (Taylor, 2014)
Vision and action are interdependent and intertwined throughout this process of improvement and innovation: without strategic action, the vision will never be realised, and without a coherent shared vision that your team has committed to, no one will be inspired to action. When these elements are present, there is limitless potential for positive transformation. Tony Robbins summarises this nicely with his views on the importance of execution in this short video which you can see on here...

As the driving force behind the vision, the school leadership and staff must provide the focus for the actions which build towards the vision, discussing it and supporting it from a place of enthusiastic and authentic commitment. They must manifest the new vision, demonstrating that it is tangible, right now, even if it has not yet been achieved to its fullest extent.

One very practical approach is to take the vision and treat it as a lens through which schools can evaluate various activities (for example: such as staff professional learning meetings, board meetings or new initiatives) to ascertain ‘how has this brought us closer to our vision for student learning?’ This is one of the many practical strategies that can ‘give your vision legs’.

This sort of leadership does not need to demand “buy-in”; it naturally calls forth genuine, wholehearted responses and calls to action, and consequently empowers everyone in the wider community to become a fully engaged changemaker in their own right too. It is on this firm foundation that progress can be made towards making this shared vision a reality that you can see, touch, hear and feel in your school.

It is written by Rob Clarke. Rob is the founder of

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