01 Jan Imagine you have just taken on the role as leader of an educational program in your specialization and have been told to implement a change process that is part of a district initiative. As
Imagine you have just taken on the role as leader of an educational program in your specialization and have been told to implement a change process that is part of a district initiative. As a new leader, you have yet to establish trust with your colleagues, so that when you start to implement the initiative, you are surprised to get immediate push back from your colleagues. How might you work to shift your colleagues’ dissatisfaction and disengagement and support them in their roles as change agents? What leadership strategies would win the trust of your colleagues and help them see the merits of the initiative?
For this Discussion, you will analyze evidence-based strategies to establish stakeholder trust and buy-in for change and counteract resistance to change.
- Review the assigned chapters in the Fullan (2016) text. Consider the difference between adopting an innovative program, the complexity of actually implementing it, and why stakeholders resist change.
- Read the Gurley, Peters, & Collins (2015); Day, Gu, & Sammons (2016); Covey (2009); and Adams & Miskell (2016) articles. Think about the process of initiating and implementing change, the influence of leadership on change, and how to gain buy-in and trust from stakeholders throughout the change process.
- Reflect on experiences you have had in your professional practice where staff were resistant to a change in your specialization. What attempts were made by leadership to establish trust and buy-in for the change? What strategies were (or were not) used when staff members refused or pushed back during implementation? As a leader, what strategies would you have employed?
- Research evidence-based strategies for establishing trust and buy-in from staff prior to implementing change and for supporting staff when they resist changes during implementation.
An explanation of the following:
- Background information on an experience from your professional practice where staff were resisting a change in a program or practice in your specialization
- At least two strategies you would have used to establish trust and buy-in from the staff prior to implementing the change. Provide a research-supported rationale for your selected strategies.
- At least two strategies you would have employed when staff members refused or pushed back during implementation of the change process. Provide a research-supported rationale for your selected strategies.
For this Discussion, and all scholarly writing in this course and throughout your program, you will be required to use APA style and provide reference citations.
Note: To access this module’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.
Fullan, M. (2016). The new meaning of educational change (5th ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
· Chapter 4, “Initiation, Implementation, and Continuation” (pp. 54–81)
· Chapter 6, “The Teacher” (pp. 97–122)
· Chapter 10, “The District Administrator” (pp. 177–208)
Gurley, D.K., Peters, G.B., & Collins, L. (2015). Mission, vision, values, and goals: An exploration of key organizational statements and daily practice in schools. Journal of Educational Change, 16(2), 217-242. doi:10.1007/s10833-014-9229-x
Day, C., Gu, Q, & Sammons, P. (2016). The impact of leadership on student outcomes: How successful school leaders use transformational and instructional strategies to make a difference. Educational Administration Quarterly, 52(2), 221-258. doi:10.1177/0013161X15616863
Adams, C. M., & Miskell, R. C. (2016). Teacher trust in district administration: A promising link of inquiry. Journal of Leadership for Effective and Equitable Organizations, 52(4), 1-32. doi: 10.1177/0013161X16652202
Giancola, S. (2014). Evaluation matters: Getting the information you need from your evaluation. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/sst/evaluationmatters.pdf
Mission, vision, values, and goals: An exploration of key organizational statements and daily practice in schools
D. Keith Gurley • Gary B. Peters • Loucrecia Collins •
Published online: 26 February 2014
� Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014
Abstract This article reports findings from a study of graduate level, educational leadership students’ familiarity with shared mission, vision, values, and goals
statements and the perceived impact these concepts have on their practice as leaders
and teachers in schools. The study is primarily qualitative and uses content analysis
of responses to open-ended questions. Researchers adopted a limited quantitative
analysis technique, however, in order to report frequency of responses to survey
questions. We used the literature base regarding strategic planning and school
improvement as conceptual frameworks to guide the analysis. Findings revealed that
educational leadership students had limited ability to recall the content of key
organizational statements. Further, respondents reported that these key organiza-
tional statements had only minimal impact on their daily practice. Implications are
presented for university preparation programs designed to equip school leaders to
effect meaningful school improvement and organizational change centered on
D. K. Gurley (&) Department of Human Studies, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 210B Education Building,
901 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA
e-mail: [email protected]
G. B. Peters
Department of Human Studies, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 203 Education Building,
901 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA
e-mail: [email protected]
Department of Human Studies, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 223 Education Building,
901 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA
e-mail: [email protected]
Center for the Study of Community Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 112 912
Building, 912 18th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA
e-mail: [email protected]
J Educ Change (2015) 16:217–242
development of shared mission and vision for improvement. This research confirms
similar findings reported by Watkins and McCaw (Natl Forum Educ Adm Superv J
24(3):71–91, 2007) and adds to the research by exploring respondents’ reports of the
impact of mission, vision, values, and goals statements on their daily practice. It
further extends the discussion by presenting a content analysis of key organizational
statements, comparing mission, vision, values, and goals statements to models of
strategic planning and planning for continuous school improvement from the
organizational improvement literature.
Keywords Goal-setting � Organizational change � Organizational values � School culture � School improvement � Shared mission � Shared vision
Articulating and nurturing widely shared ownership and commitment to purpose in
organizations (i.e., mission, vision, values, and goals) has long been identified as
essential to effective, strategic planning for organizational improvement (Bryson
2004; Kaufman 1992; Mintzberg 1994). Bryson (2004) stated, ‘‘Clarifying purpose
can eliminate a great deal of unnecessary conflict in an organization and can channel
discussion and activity productively’’ (p. 38). Unity of purpose, or mission, within
an organization provides a means by which organizational members can work
together toward a common set of objectives.
The purpose of the research presented in this article was to explore how familiar
graduate students, enrolled in educational leadership programs at a southeastern US
university, were with the mission, vision, values, and goals statements in their
schools. We also explored the perceived level of impact that these statements had on
educational leadership students’ daily, professional practice. The article concludes
with a discussion of the findings as well as some implications for university
preparation programs designed to equip future school leaders to effect meaningful,
organizational change in their schools.
While discussion of strategic planning finds its roots in business management
contexts, much of what has been presented within this literature has migrated into
the research and discussion regarding school improvement models over the last two
decades (Quong et al. 1998). Development of a clear school mission, shared vision,
articulated values, and specific goal statements has also been applied more
specifically to the fundamental processes of school improvement focused on
increased levels of learning for all students (DuFour and Eaker 1998; DuFour et al.
2008; Perkins 1992; Renchler 1991; Teddlie and Reynolds 2000; Wiggins and
McTighe 2007). Yet, despite a longstanding and consistent admonition in the
literature regarding the purpose and power in developing these foundational
218 J Educ Change (2015) 16:217–242
statements, the practice of clearly articulating such statements continues to be
effectively ignored by many school leaders (DuFour et al. 2008; Watkins and
McCaw 2007). In an insightful piece on vision-guided schools, Pekarsky (2007)
stated, ‘‘… thoughtful, systematic attention to larger questions of purpose is rarely at the heart of American social and educational discourse’’ (p. 424).
The current authors contend that, among school leaders, there exists a lack of
understanding of exactly what mission, vision, values, and goals statements are and
the value such foundational statements offer to the development of shared
commitment among stakeholders to the process of school improvement. Citing
evidence from a recent survey of our graduate-level educational leadership students,
we point to the presence of an implied disconnect between the widely established,
best practice in the first steps of school improvement (i.e., development of key
organizational mission, vision, values, and goals statements) and the daily,
professional practice of educational leaders charged with demonstrating continuous
improvement in school achievement and student learning.
In the first section of the article, we provide clear definitions of the terms and
then research-based evidence for the value of school mission, vision, values, and
goals statements. Next, we describe findings from the research conducted in an
educational leadership program at a university in the southeastern United States. We
conclude the article by presenting a discussion of the findings as well as some
implications for further research into the topic. The article begins with a description
of the two key conceptual frameworks adopted to guide the research, i.e., strategic
planning and continuous school improvement. We based the content analysis of
mission, vision, values, and goals statements recalled by our students on the models
of strategic planning and continuous school improvement.
The research project was guided by two frames of thought regarding organizational
and school change. The first of these frameworks is strategic planning, developed by
authors and researchers primarily outside the field of education. The second
framework, that is continuous school improvement, stems from the strategic
planning literature, but applies its concepts specifically to the process of increasing
the capacity of schools to effect high levels of learning for students and adults in a
school context. Discussion of continuous school improvement comprises a broad
framework developed by a wide variety of school improvement experts. Strategic
planning and continuous school improvement frameworks are described in more
detail in the section that follows.
We first adopted a conceptual framework of strategic planning to guide the project.
Strategic planning finds its roots in the work of Lewin (1943) on organizational
change (Burnes 2004). Lewin described three stages of organizational change
claiming that, in order to solidify meaningful change within an organization,
organizational members must first unfreeze or become aware that the current
J Educ Change (2015) 16:217–242 219
mindset within the organization must change in order to meet new demands from
the external environment. Next, organizational members, now aware of the need for
change, actually experience a state of confusion or become unsettled as they recreate
and redefine the new norms for the organization. Finally, once new norms and
expectations have been defined, the organization experiences a state of freezing in
which they establish, commit to, and become comfortable again with the new set of
organizational norms, goals, and expectations (Lewin 1943).
Based upon an extensive knowledge of historical literature on planning in
American and European corporations, Mintzberg (1994) sought to define the elusive
construct of strategic planning. Mintzberg asserted that planning has been conceived
of historically as merely ‘‘future thinking’’ by many planning experts, while others
define planning as actually ‘‘controlling the future’’ (p. 7). Finally, Mintzberg
asserted the possibility that planning is simply a process of ‘‘decision making’’ (p.
9). In an effort to define strategic planning, Mintzberg clearly pointed to the
complex nature of the process and the need for organizational actors to define what
it is they mean by ‘‘strategic planning’’ and how that process will be fleshed out in
the organization. Other strategic planning experts have focused specifically on
aspects of organizational change in the nonprofit sector, including the second phase
described by Lewin (1943), wherein organizational leaders and members focus on
developing a new set of organizational norms and commitments in order to enable
the change process (Bardwell 2008; Crittenden and Crittenden 1997; Moore 2000).
Describing a successful strategic planning process in their nonprofit organization,
McHatton et al. (2011) stated, ‘‘…strategic planning has been shown to be beneficial in gaining stakeholder consensus for organizational objectives and future action’’ (p.
In this second stage of strategic planning described by Lewin (1943), confusion,
members engage in a process of developing organizational purpose statements
intended to guide the change process. Purpose statements include statements of
mission, vision, values, and goals, and become the cornerstones upon which
organizational change is built (Bardwell 2008; Crittenden and Crittenden 1997;
Moore 2000). McHatton et al. (2011) identified common elements of effective
strategic planning emergent from the literature and from their own experience,
including the development of clear mission and vision statements, a commitment to
organizational values (e.g., leadership, collaboration), and development of a
systematic way to monitor progress toward organizational goals.
Out of this dialogue of strategic planning for organizations in general stems the
discussion of organizational improvement specifically for schools. Researchers for
the current study adopted this conceptual framework of school improvement to
further guide data analysis and reflection.
In the seminal work on the problem of change in US schools, Sarason (1971)
clearly explicated many problems that school leaders often encounter in their efforts
to effect meaningful, modal change in educational settings. Among these problems
was an insufficient understanding of the context of schools and the regularities, or
220 J Educ Change (2015) 16:217–242
common practices of school personnel. Without a thorough understanding of these
regularities, change agents have traditionally found it difficult, if not impossible, to
implement and sustain desired changes in schools.
Rooted in the work of Sarason (1971); Fullan (1993, 1998, 1999) extended the
discussion of the complexity of the change process in school improvement. Fullan
observed that schools are not only complex organizations, but operate in constantly
changing, fluid contexts. School improvement leaders are challenged, at best, to introduce
and support change efforts within organizations that experience ongoing, dynamic
external and internal change forces, most of which may be hidden and unexpected.
Fullan (1993) explained that, while developing a shared vision among school
personnel is essential, it is important that this vision remain fluid, especially at the
point of introduction of substantial change in a school. Fullan recommended that
school improvement leaders remain open to reflection within and about the
organization in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the context
before establishing an organizational vision. Fullan wrote, ‘‘Under conditions of
dynamic complexity, one needs a good deal of reflective experience before one can
form a plausible vision’’ (p. 28).
Many other authors have contributed to the school improvement knowledge base
over the last two decades, offering a wealth of research-based practices in school
leadership, change agency, instruction, curriculum development, and organizational
planning (Danielson 2007; DuFour et al. 2008; Marzano et al. 2005; Reeves 2000).
In presenting an increasingly popular model of school improvement, professional
learning communities (PLC), DuFour and Eaker (1998) identified the articulation,
implementation, and stewardship of mission, vision, values, and goals statements as
fundamental building blocks to effective school improvement. For the current study,
researchers adopted the PLC guiding framework due to the more extensive
articulation of the definitions of these foundational, organizational statements.
These definitions are explained more clearly in the following section.
Review of literature
Although strategic planning and school improvement literature bases are replete,
even saturated, with discussion about organizational mission, vision, values, and
goals, there remains a widespread misunderstanding of exactly what each of these
terms means, as well as an apparent lack of understanding of the value of establishing
such statements to the process of school improvement (DuFour et al. 2008; Watkins
and McCaw 2007). It is imperative, then, that we carefully define each term and
provide background regarding how well-articulated, foundational terms can
contribute to the evolution and improvement of organizations and schools.
Defining a mission statement
Often in leadership discourse, a mission statement is used synonymously and
interchangeably with the vision statement of an organization. However, the two
statements are distinct from one another (DuFour et al. 2008). A mission statement
J Educ Change (2015) 16:217–242 221
is, most simply, a statement of why an organization exists, a statement of its
fundamental purpose. In the context of continuous school improvement, DuFour and
Eaker (1998) described a mission statement as ‘‘stating the business of our
business’’ and answering the question, ‘‘Why do we exist?’’ (p. 58). Lunenberg
(2010) argued that leading an ongoing, community-wide discussion about the
purpose of the organization’s existence is essential to the function of school
leadership and to the process of building unity and shared commitment to the work
to be done in an educational organization.
Stemler et al. (2011) conducted a comprehensive content analysis of high school
mission statements from a sample of schools from ten states across the United States.
These authors noted that, despite the presence of an allegedly unifying school mission
statement, the reasons that stakeholders assign for a school’s existence may vary
widely from school to school, and even among stakeholders within the same school.
For example, faculty and other community members may perceive the mission of a
school as ranging from preparing students to function as mature civic, emotional,
cognitive, and social adults to preparing students to assume vocational functions,
physically healthy habits, and even local and global integration (Stemler et al. 2011).
Stemler et al. (2011) argued that, while each of the perceivedmissions or purposes of
schooling are indeed important and laudable, the fact that such a wide variety of
individually held or perceived purposes for schooling exists, even among faculty
members operating within the same school unit, results in a lack of unity of mission and
shared effort toward a common set of objectives. This lack of unity in defining a shared
mission may result in a breakdown of mutual understanding of the primary purpose for
the school’s existence and eventually lead to fragmentation of effort among
organizational actors. The purpose of developing a widely shared organizational
mission, therefore, is not conducted to limit other, important functions of schools, but
rather to focus members’ efforts in order to reach clearly articulated and specific goals
(Bryson2004;DuFour et al. 2008;Kaufman1992;Mintzberg 1994, Stemler et al. 2011).
According to Boerema (2006), the mission statement of a school actually
articulates a set of values that answer fundamental questions about the purpose of
education and how the educational program should be carried out. Boerema pointed
out that, ‘‘The school mission provides the context for governance, decision making,
and the way the school is managed’’ (p. 182). Boerema further explained that a
school mission statement provides key direction to those individuals performing the
core technology of a school, namely teaching and learning.
The process of articulating a clear and concise mission statement is imperative in
order to solidify a shared understanding of what the primary work of the school
actually is. Without careful examination, discussion, articulation, and clarification
of the school mission, educational professionals who work together closely on a
daily basis may interpret their purpose very differently, each assuming a different
reason for why they do the work that they do.
Defining a vision statement
A vision statement is qualitatively different from a mission statement. A vision
statement is an articulation not of purpose, but of a preferred future for the
222 J Educ Change (2015) 16:217–242
organization. According to DuFour and Eaker (1998), a vision statement answers
the question, ‘‘What do we hope to become?’’ (p. 62).
A vision statement provides stakeholders with a picture of what their ideal school
and students will look like if educators are successful in working together to achieve
that vision. Though a vision statement should be clear and meaningful to all
stakeholders, effective vision statements are concise and provide lofty, yet
measureable, language so that school personnel know when the vision has been
achieved or when it should be adjusted to better meet the needs of the organization
Pekarsky (2007) stated that a vision statement is far more than a mere slogan. A
vision statement enables school community members to assume a desired state of
heart and mind with which to carry out their daily functions in the school.
Stakeholders in a vision-guided organization, through the function of a clearly
articulated and supported vision statement, are explicit about where they are headed,
what they are about, and how they will know when they have arrived.
Kose (2011) stated that a shared, articulated vision is characteristic of effective
schools, is a vehicle for building more inclusive and equitable schools, and can
influence positive change in school improvement efforts, hiring, evaluation,
professional development, and other key school functions. According to Kose,
principals can use a well-crafted and supported vision statement to effect powerful
change in the school on many different levels.
Defining values statements
Perhaps the least understood and under-implemented of the four foundational
statements is the statement of core values. As the name suggests, core values
statements articulate the shared beliefs of an organization. Again, DuFour and Eaker
(1998) claimed that core values statements answer the question, ‘‘How must we
behave in order to make our shared vision a reality?’’ (p. 88).
In describing their work with business organizations, Blanchard and O’Connor
(1997) argued that, ‘‘When aligned around shared values and united in a common
purpose, ordinary people accomplish extraordinary results and give their organi-
zation a competitive edge’’ (p. 144). Though their work and research was conducted
in a profit-driven context, key concepts may arguably be applied to non-profit
organizations, as well. Blanchard and O’Connor wrote of the importance for
contemporary organizations to adopt key values, such as honesty, fairness, and
integrity, in order to survive in the current economy.
Blanchard and O’Connor (1997) further contended that organizations, centered
on powerful, shared values, report better service to their clientele, higher profits, and
a higher quality of working environments for their employees. The authors stated
that it is these shared values that act as the primary authority within an organization,
the authority to which all organizational members answer.
In order for statements of organizational values or belief statements to be
effective and meaningful to a school community, however, they must be translated
from esoteric statements of stakeholder beliefs into clear and succinct statements of
observable behaviors. In other words, statements of core values do not merely
J Educ Change (2015) 16:217–242 223
answer the question, ‘‘What do we believe?’’ but also address the question, ‘‘Based
upon our core beliefs, how will we behave within our organization in order to
achieve our vision?’’
For example, if a school community identifies a core value of safety for its
school, it is not enough merely to state, ‘‘We believe our school should be safe.’’
Instead, the value becomes much more realistic and observable when a statement of
safety as a value is translated into behavioral statements such as, ‘‘Because we value
keeping our community safe, we will each assume responsibility to keep school
doors locked at all times.’’ Or, ‘‘Because we value safety for all staff and students,
we will each approach and greet strangers to our building and offer our assistance.’’
Such behavioral statements, added to a stem statement of a basic value, makes the
core values statements come alive within the organization and allows leaders to
observe when and if the espoused core values are actually at work or if they are,
rather, mere words on a document.
Calder (2011) extended the understanding of the importance of values statements
by claiming that values statements provide an important foundational pillar for how
business is to be conducted. Calder wrote, ‘‘Values shape much of the work
processes and, as such, influence how an institution moves forward in a positive
way’’ (p. 24).
Defining goals statements
Perhaps the most clearly understood of the four terms is the statement of goals. In a
goal statement, educators spell out precisely what level of performance is to be
achieved in the selected domain (e.g., student learning, professional development)
and what steps are to be taken, by whom, in order to achieve the goal. Clearly, in
this era of increased accountability for student learning and professional practice,
setting clear, measurable performance goals has become common practice for
school leaders and other school personnel. DuFour and Eaker (1998) stated that
statements of learning goals address the question, ‘‘Which steps will we take first,
and when?’’ (p. 100).
A widespread trend across the United States in school improvement efforts,
especially in light of increased accountability, is the development of organizational
goals that are Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound
or SMART goals (O’Neill 2000). The connection between effective goal setting and
student achievement has been clearly established among researchers (Moeller et al.
Summary of literature review
A clear definition of the meaning of each of the four foundational statements
(mission, vision, values, goals) is imperative for members of the organization,
especially leaders, to understand the purpose of statement development. Further-
more, a deep understanding of the value of each type of statement, not merely the
development of the statement, but the organization-wide ownership and investment
in the principles asserted in the statement, is also imperative if school leaders are to
224 J Educ Change (2015) 16:217–242
make important and significant progress toward school improvement. In other
words, the purpose and value of developing foundational mission, vision, values,
and goals with stakeholders within an organization is not merely to have done so,
and to check these tasks off of the ‘‘to do’’ lists. Rather, the purpose of developing
these statements is to bring organizational stakeholders together to share in a
common understanding of and commitment to the school’s purpose, preferred
future, behavioral expectations, and next steps toward school improvement and
increased levels of student learning.
We used a primarily qualitative methodology (i.e., content analysis) in order to
explore the level of familiarity educational leadership students had with their
school’s mission, vision, values, and goals statements and the level to which the
statements impacted their daily practice. We also, however, employed the use of a
quantitative technique in reporting the frequency of responses to survey questions.
While not strictly a replication of research, the project described here follows-up on
and extends research conducted by Watkins and McCaw (2007).
Reporting findings from a similarly designed study, Watkins and McCaw (2007)
discovered a lack of ability by their educational leadership students to articulate
their own school or district mission, vision, and values statements. These authors
discovered that the mission, vision, and values statements that their students recalled
were largely not aligned between school and district levels and that only a small
percentage of recalled statements (8–15 %) were reflective of identified criteria for
what the content of vision, mission, and values statements should reflect.
We patterned the current investigation after the Watkins and McCaw (2007)
study by surveying our current educational leadership students, asking them to recall
key organizational statements. We also followed the Watkins and McCaw design by
conducting a content analysis of the actual statements that respondents could recall.
Our study departs from the Watkins and McCaw study in that we added students’
ability to recall school goals statements to the survey. Further, at the suggestion of
Watkins and McCaw, we explored our students’ perception of impact that school
mission, vision, values, and goals statements had on their daily practice as
The individuals who comprised the convenience sample for this study were enrolled
in one of three graduate-level, educational leadership preparation programs at a
university in the southeastern part of the United States during the fall of 2012. All
participants were employed as teachers, principals, or central office administrators
in schools within the university service area and were enrolled in either an
educational master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral program at the university.
Educational leadership students were selected to participate in the research based on
their experience working in schools and on their demonstrated interest in the stu
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