The Mining Indaba 2014: What does it mean for the Western Limb
Tuesday 4 February 2014
A vision and a mission
Today was a big day for the Western Limb project. We held our first vision mission and strategy session. It was led by team member Meisha Robinson, who started the Skype call with us at 6am because of the time zone difference between Cape Town, and Maryland, U.S..
One of the aims of the session was to establish the framework to create Western Limb’s vision, mission, and guiding principles.
Before the session, Meisha circulated a homework assignment for the Western Limb team members to complete. She asked us to answer the following questions:
What is the Western Limb (in your own words)?
Who lives there (in your own words)?
What is great about living in the Western Limb today?
What makes it hard to live in the Western Limb today?
What changes would you like to see in the Western Limb?
How do you think these changes could be made?
What skills do you possess that could aid in making these changes?
What situations, circumstances, people, etc. could prevent the changes in the Western Limb you envision from taking place?
What organizations do you admire for the social impact they are having in the Western Limb? Or in South Africa? Why?
Then she compiled all of our answers into one document.
Defining a vision statement: Imagine what the world would look like if you achieved your goal
She also wrote a briefing paper for the session with three objectives for the session, an agenda and great briefing paper on how to go about developing a vision and mission statement. She set out the the vision and mission statements of some charities and NGOs to give us an example of how a vision and mission statement relates to the organization as we know it.
A vision statement is a one-sentence statement describing the clear and inspirational long-term desired change resulting from an organization or program’s work. It focuses on the organization’s values, rather than bottom line measures. For examples, Oxfam’s vision is “A just world without poverty”.
A mission statement defines the organization’s purpose and primary objectives, the essence of the organization’s gools. to arrive at a mission statement you ask yourself why are you doing what you are doing? Who are you doing it for? What are you? What are you not? For example, TED’s mission statement is, very simply, “Spreading ideas”.
I learned a lot about our team, about the Western Limb and how it operates from our our conversation. And I could see just how important it is to do this kind of work, if you want your team and other people to get behind the vision and carry out the mission. Even though it takes a long time, it is absolutely essential for the clarity it gives you and everyone else about what you are. And what you are not.
Question 3: What is great about living in the Western Limb? Discuss (20 marks)
One of the highlights of the homework assignment feedback was Meisha giving her impressions of what makes life in the Western Limb great. She lived in Phokeng for as a year working on a programme with the Special Olympics.
While she was there, she was invited to a sports day that some of the Bafokeng youth were setting up. She arrived the next day, a bit before the event was due to start. And nothing had been set up. There was not even a sports field. She asked someone whether the event was still going to happen. Yes, of course, the person replied, but there was still little activity. And then someone showed up in a car and started unloading posts for a portable netball pitch and putting them. Other youngsters arrived and came along and started to go round to the neighbours asking if they could borrow some charis. Someone else arrived with a sound system and they went to another neighbour and they asked if they could run it off their electricity. In no time at all their sports day was pumping. Crowd-sourced the old school way. This kind of openness, sharing and community would be impossible in other places in the world.
I recall in January 2012 I went to an international friendly between Ghana and Bafana Bafana at the Bafokeng Stadium. Entry was free. It was a great day out. Youngsters were in their sharpest threads. As the half time whistle blew, the DJ dropped a dance track by a local artist. Everyone seemed to know the song. The entire stadium is up on its feet and dancing. (And Bafana Bafana did not lose for a change.)
It is these moments that help to anchor that vision, because fulfilling on it will come naturally when we tap into that spirit and energy that is authentic to who people really are.