Of Metaphors and Milestones

We're proud to unveil results and plan abstracts beneath each of our eight strategies. You'll now find a "Plan" section at the top of this and every page of this web site. Click on that link and you can read specifics on what we will do over the next five years. As we go, you'll be able to track our progress.

A journey, by definition, has an end. A trip from one place to another. Travel to somewhere. We've discovered, and have had to face, a challenging fact over the last several months. Strategic planning as we've conceived it has no end. Yes, the plan will be in place for five years. Yes, there are things to do and boxes to check along the way. Milestones.

So, we commit to our mission and pledge to support one another along a journey that offers no end. Only milestones.

Another metaphor fails. Thankfully. When they paint bridges like the Golden Gate, conventional wisdom says that they have to start all over as soon as they finish. After five years, we'll reassess and plan again. That, however, will not be starting over. It'll simply be the the next step, and we'll have become experts at next steps long before then. I expect that we'll need to make an effort to celebrate the occasion rather than just roll up our sleeves and get it done. That's fine. Next steps are better than restarts. Steady progress into new realms of excellence are always better than leaps and bounds across terrain we already know like the backs of our hands.

Metaphors, by definition, are imperfect.

As I reflect on the past year, I remember that one of our action team leaders captured the problem of metaphors on the evening of our very first action plan meeting. It was early in the final phase of the project, when (as the metaphor goes) the rubber met the road in a big way.

Put him on a game field or in a classroom, he said, and he knew exactly what to do. His awareness was keen and his senses trained. Second nature. But this was different. This work of collaborative action planning toward results serving a mission through goals was disorienting. He was doubting his instincts.

Terra incognita. At that point, we knew our direction, but we didn't have a map. Those brave folks--over one hundred staff, students, and community members--identified our milestones. They drew our map.

But to where? We didn't know it, but our first milestone as we shifted from planning to implementation was realizing that we must do what we ask of our students. We must model our new mission, which challenges our students to be passionate about a journey of learning that never ends. Indeed, it imagines that they'd fight to avoid the end of that journey.

We must engage in lifelong learning through those things that light our fires.

We must strive for continuous improvement as we allow those passions to make us more effective in every arena of our lives, personal and professional.

We must honor the milestones.

But we must never, never stop.


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