Final post on M-V-V-G-GP-S….maybe

Bill Ferriter, a good friend and Solution Tree Author, and I had a great dinner conversation in Australia last May that has led me to blogging.  He is the reason for this site and he has a fantastic blog that is a MUST READ.  The Tempered Radical.

Besides being a great educator in NC, author, presenter and friend, he also keeps me on my toes.  Below is a recent e-conversation asking me if I truly believed what I wrote this past six weeks.  My comments are in IU Red!  

Now for a quick disclaimer.  Earlier this week I was in Colorado at meeting from sun up to way past sun down.  And my Uncle, with whom I was close, passed in FL so I am her for his funeral, along with my folks.  I have now been in Bloomington two work days this month.  This topic was something I wanted to post, but became very easy to cut and past under the certain circumstances.  : )  Next week on to new topics!.  But thanks Bill for pushing me here!

This is an actual e-mail conversation cut as typed from last week.

BF:  Now a fun little intellectual push-back for you:  Are your authors your number 1 priority, or your customers?  JJ:  Our priority.  We do not create anything at Solution Tree.  We bundle items and re-purpose items, but unlike a Pearson who has a warehouse in Jersey cranking out curriculum, we have experts authors pouring their life’s work into resources we produce on their behalf.

BF:  Or the kids in classrooms that you’re trying to improve education for?  JJ: That is the educator’s customer. The educator is the author’s customer.

BF:  Do you better serve customers AND kids when you concentrate on identifying and advancing the work of the best authors that you can find? JJ. Absolutely.  

Does placing authors at the top of your priority list, will some employees forget the role that customers and kids play in making you who you are?  JJ:  Not if they know the Vision Statement:Transform education worldwide to ensure learning for all.

BF:  You and I have had this conversation before:  I know that you prioritize authors because it means you are giving voice to the kinds of ideas that improve education for every child, everywhere.  But would slipping kids and customers into your foundational statement help to keep everyone in your growing organization focused on the real reason you do what you do on behalf of authors?  JJ: Vision statement should do that. The Vision Statement is the “Why” we do what we do.  The Mission Statement is the “How” we do it.  The Goal is “What” we do.

Until next week!

Our Strategy

Well this is the last of 6 post on how we frame what we do at The Tree.  Over the past five weeks I have written about our Mission, Vision, Values, Goals and Guiding Principals.  This blog is about our Strategies.  I am not going to dwell on the specifics, because there really isn’t a need.  Kind of self explanatory.

  1. Mission
  2. Vision
  3. Values
  4. Goals
  5. Guiding Principals
  6. Strategies

  • Cultivate professional development opportunities for educators.  That is what we do!
  • Create and refine practices that reflect our core values. If we don’t do this we don’t improve and our values are lip service.
  • Fully develop Solution Tree’s brand recognition. We have to brand the authors work, the authors, and Solution Tree as the home for Professional Development.  No small task of triple branding, but hey if it was easy everybody would do it.

By focusing on our M-V-V-G-GP-S we have a true road map on how we are to work, act, respond and function at Solution Tree.  It took nearly 6 full years before we determined each of these, so we could articulate who we were and who we wanted to be as a company.  No easy task.  But the real hard part is living these out.  And that is my job. To make certain that we never lose our focus and if we do, REFOCUS and get back on track.

Transform education worldwide to ensure learning for all.  That truly is Why We Do It.

Our Guiding Principles

Over the past four weeks I have written about our Mission, Vision, Values and goals.  This blog is about our Guiding Principles.

  1. Mission
  2. Vision
  3. Values
  4. Goals
  5. Guiding Principals
  6. Strategies

The quote from Tuesday, though all the way from the 1700s, really does frame why one should work so hard in defining your guiding principles.

Our principles are the springs of our actions; our actions, the springs of our happiness or misery.  Too much care, therefore, cannot be taken in framing our principles.

–Philip Skelton 1707 – 1787

Irish Protestant clergyman and writer

  1.  Our authors are our #1 Priority.  In keeping true to our Mission Statement, and everything that flows from fidelity to that statement, our authors MUST be our #1 priority.  This is what makes us tick.  What makes us unique.  What will always be our #1 priority.
  2. We work in collaborative teams.  Back in 2003 we held 6 PLC Institutes.  Twice as many as we held the year before.  At that time I was the emcee, book co-op builder with Shannon Ritz, binder handler outer, you name it.  During this summer I used the same binder to take notes at all the keynotes at all events.  It helped me appreciate how the tenants of a PLC can work within our own business.  So with single digit employees in nearly every department we began to work more collaboratively, as I was being taught, and things started to humm along much more easily, which gave us the capacity to do more…which we did.
  3. We are a continuous learning organization. Business is competitive.  We basically started from scratch when we bought this company.  Sure we had some assets and history, not all of which was good, but none of us really knew what we were doing.  We learned from the profits and non-profits in our sector, but we certainly did not model ourselves after them. We did what we needed to do to survive, and figured out the next steps.  We learned the business as we went along.  Today we lead Professional Development in a lot of different ways.  The most conferences, most agnostic PD dates, and I am certain their are more, but if we get fat and happy we will lose our position, and that means someone else is advancing the work of their authors better than we are advancing our authors’ work.  Just not gonna happen.  So we try new things, and we learn from our mistakes. We watch what others but do our own thing, not their thing.  Learn and grow, or fail.
  4. Data rules. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there.”   George Harrison, Cloud Nine.  Well we know where we are heading.  That is outline in our Vision and our Goal.  So to get to where we are going we need a good plan, a direction, a route.  You can not do that without data.  Every aspect of our company has data, so we mine that data and if we pay attention to the finds, we uncover information, and if we use the information to form our decisions, well then our odd of success just multiplied.

Next week, strategies.

Quote on Principles

This Thursday’s Blog, being sent to you from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is on our Guiding Principles, so it is once again only fitting to find a quote related to the upcoming topic.  Here we go, all the way back to the 1700s.

Our principles are the springs of our actions; our actions, the springs of our happiness or misery.  Too much care, therefore, cannot be taken in framing our principles.

–Philip Skelton 1707 – 1787

Irish Protestant clergyman and writer