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A Shared Mission, Vision and Strategic Priorities
As we know, simple can often be harder than complex. When I joined SEGD as CEO, I implemented weekly goals for each of the staff and myself. Each Monday we set three of our top goals for the week. Most weeks it’s hard to keep it to three, most weeks it’s hard to prioritize and each week we reflect to see what we accomplished. Some weeks nothing on the list was crossed off because things that weren’t on the radar popped up and took priority. As a team we celebrate the small weekly wins and focus on our bigger quarterly and yearly goals, still only three. When the year ends we start anew and pick our goals for the next.
At the end of the year, our culture emphasizes the “tops,” the winners and losers of the year as though we start anew when the clock strikes 12:01 on January 1st. I suppose it is helpful to start with a clean slate, and if you follow other cultures, like the Chinese New Year, the Jewish Calendar, the Islamic new year, you may have a different “new year.”
Self reflection is important and so is “scrubbing your job description” as a leadership trainer once told me. Focusing on what really matters most. It’s the 360 or a view from afar that shows if you are on course or just living a constant deja vu. What we do as an individual impacts what we do as a group and vice versa. A key element to any productive and effective group is that we understand our common mission. We often associate the new year with the “new you!”
“An organization with a clear purpose or mission is one that is easy to understand and manage. A common purpose unifies employees and helps them understand an organization’s direction.”
When I was interviewing for the job of CEO in May of 2020, implementing a new strategic plan was a priority in the job description. But shortly after I joined, the board, staff and I realized with the canceling of our annual conference and the impact of the pandemic and racial justice uprisings, it was more important to focus on immediate needs of our membership community than try to set a course for the future.
In November of 2021, we had our first in person conference behind us since the beginning of the pandemic, we were half way through our 18 month DEAI training commitment and we felt stable enough financially to start our organizational “soul searching” and ask our community what mattered now and what they hoped for in our communal future. In January 2022, SEGD embarked on evaluating and updating our strategic plan, an organizational version of a “360.”
We started the year by hosting a workshop with the board and a strategic advisor, we then surveyed the membership through the spring, sharing those outcomes with our attendees of the Portland Annual Conference and with virtual focus groups, including our international members and academic task force.
The feedback we received was overwhelming and it took us several months through the summer and early fall to consolidate, process and synthesize. That’s where we circle back to the idea that “simpler is often harder than complex.” As part of our work, we asked board members to share effective missions and visions from other organizations. Nike came up as an example, with their abbreviated mission statement of “We see a world where everybody is an athlete,” “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Whether you respect Nike as a brand, the clarity of their mission is undeniable and a simple call to action.
“SEGD is at the leading edge of design. We create experiences that enhance the human condition and impact communities through creativity, innovation and design excellence.”
When we kicked off our new website work this fall, we revisited our feedback for our strategic plan. The theme that continued to rise to the top was the fact that we are advocates for our truly unique field of experience design. That people from around the world come to our website seeking understanding, educational resources and inspiration through projects and people that exemplify experience design excellence.
Our members represent people driven by the “why” we do this work. To me, that is the strongest differentiating factor of everyone I meet in this organization. SEGD stands out from other organizations because our community is driven deeply by the impact that our work has on the end users, the people that will never know that someone spent months, or even years designing the spaces they will interact with. Most of this work is about improving the human condition, our work in health, transportation, education, workplace, parks, placemaking, branded experiences, workplaces and entertainment.
Ultimately, mission and vision statements only matter if they are strategic priorities that become tangible and achievable goals. Goals that everyone from the staff, to the board of directors and volunteers feel empowered to implement. That’s why the values and strategic priorities are key to the success of an organization or company.
We invite you to read our Strategic Plan document. To see what resonates with you in your relationship with the SEGD community. We hope that you will find synergies with your particular practice that create meaning and opportunity for growth and impact.
As we head into our 50th year in 2023, we look forward to collaborating with you, supporting you, connecting you and elevating our field of experience design in the larger world of design. This is our opportunity to illuminate our design excellence looking to the future.
Thank you for being a part of our strategic future planning,