Square one in strategic leadership for a new executive is defining the “better place” toward which to point the institution. For want of a better term, we call it the “vision.” That destination builds on the essential characteristics of the institution or system and can be about academics, finances, reputation, market position, facilities, student life, organization, or external support. Even when the “vision” is focused on one or a subset of these contexts, it is likely to have implications for all of them.
Vision statements are often too generic to provide clear direction for organizational change. Freeland/Maguire works with leaders to help frame visions that are inspiring, actionable, achievable and supported by key stakeholders. We also work with communications and marketing professionals to develop messaging strategies and vehicles that will communicate and reinforce the vision. In addition, we work with vice presidents in the various functional areas and with board leaders to shape visions for their own areas of responsibly that are consistent with the overall vision of the campus or system.
Our approach emphasizes that establishing a strategic vision is not a one-time event; the vision needs to be repeated and reinforced over time and interpreted in the context of particular issues and challenges. It also needs to be adaptable to changing circumstances, but Freeland/Maguire attaches a high value to keeping the campus community focused on a consistent vision towards which they are working over an extended period.