Leading a vision walk
If you are not sure how to get your team to buy into your vision, here is an activity that may help. It is also great professional development for everyone involved.
Achieving a vision has to be a collaborative process. What better way to refine, reshape and motivate others around your vision than involving them in developing it?
This activity will help your team to buy into a vision and help you refine it. While it is a straightforward activity, it will require the support of senior staff and colleagues. At simplest, it is a team activity, led by yourself, taking a minimum of half a day, plus preparation and follow up time.
The purpose of the activity is not only to identify the vision of those who walk but to analyse what is helping the team succeed and where there are barriers to improvement. It is a risk analysis with bells and whistles.
A vision walk is a self-evaluation prior to making an action plan for improvement. Therefore, the task of each team member as they walk is to record answers to three simple questions:
What do we see we like and want to keep?
What do we see we would like to lose?
What don’t we see we would like to see?
To make this process simpler, there is a vision walk activity sheet at the end of this article, which each participant can use to record their responses. They should be encouraged to note what people are saying and doing as well as the physical environment, displays, furniture, etc.
After the walk, or even during, the team should coordinate and analyse results. It is important to prioritise actions to strengthen the ‘what we likes’ and ‘what we would like to sees’ (within the team’s control) and remove the ‘like to lose’ or barriers to progress. Those of you who use iAbacus® will recognise this as the ‘helping and hindering’ section.
A first outcome should be feedback, especially of the positives, maybe in a report to all who were involved. Feedback can be a great motivator. The second outcome should be a draft action plan to offer colleagues as a tangible way to realise their vision.
The power of the vision walk is that all aspects of environment, activity and behaviour are subject to scrutiny. Most importantly it checks reality against the vision. Are we actually doing what we claim to be doing? It should also provide new ideas that can be incorporated into your developing vision statement and School Improvement Plan.
I have used this activity often and successfully over many years. It works with leadership groups, teachers, governors, parents and pupils. It will help your vision to be realistic, achievable, and focused on the things that matter most. It will ensure that your vision leads the way for your team, whomever that is.
John Pearce is a former headteacher, school improvement advisor, author and co-creator of the iAbacus. You can find a more indepth version of this article in the UKEdChat magazine, edition 53 (January 2019). See page 18 of the UKEdChat magazine.