Topic: Mission, Vision & Planning

Mission, vision, and values are the guiding principles of an organization. Strategic planning follows from these principles, activating mission with a detailed blueprint for action. Effective organizations connect mission (and vision and values) with planning in a cyclical process of thinking intentionally about what they do and how. Mission isn’t a string of words that are so hallowed that they can’t be touched. And planning isn’t a perfunctory exercise that results in an organizational document. Both mission and planning should be the focus of an organization’s deepest thinking and most productive dialogue and analysis.

When you think carefully and deeply about the fundamental purpose of your community arts education provider—what human or societal needs it meets and how you meet those needs—you are expressing the mission. When you think about what will happen in the community if your organization is successful at fulfilling the mission, you are articulating the vision. And when you describe the deeply held beliefs that inspire and guide your work in community arts education, you are talking about core values.

When you engage in strategic planning, mission is the driving force. A strategic planning process is an opportunity to decide what steps your organization will take—and what it won’t do—to accomplish its mission. Planning begins with a review of purpose, continues with an analysis of the external context and realities, and identifies the critical issues the organization is addressing. The resulting plan guides decisionmaking at every level. There are many variations on strategic planning, and each organization should design a process that suits its needs.

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This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.