Planning and Diversity

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The purpose of planning is to make selected future conditions more likely than they would be without intentional effort. Some good things usually happen just by God’s gracious kindness. But thousands of years of human history consistently confirm that purposeful and well-coordinated efforts are more likely to produce the desired conditions than hopeful and prayerful chaos, in which each person does what seems right in his or her own view. A large and complex organization like Fresno Pacific University needs a comprehensive plan to help ensure that the thousands of people and systems involved will consistently work together to achieve their most important shared outcomes.

One of the most common and effective means of achieving effective collaboration is agreement on the mission, vision and core values. Typically this agreement is expressed in written statements that are supported by the predominant majority of people in the organization. These statements help people know whether they want to join and remain in the organization, and they guide the decisions and actions of all organizational members and supporters.

A mission statement is the most fundamental expression of organizational identity. It says why the organization exists. It is broad, simple, stable and enduring. According to our mission statement: “Fresno Pacific University develops students for leadership and service through excellence in Christian higher education.” This statement identifies the particular business we believe God has entrusted to us in the work of his kingdom on earth. Our mission statement has served us adequately for many years and is probably still suitable as a guide and general framework for our current planning process.

A vision statement describes a desired future condition that needs to exist if we are to be successful at the business God has given us. There are two kinds of vision statements. One describes the kind of organization we want to be. The second is externally focused, and describes how the world outside Fresno Pacific will be different if we succeed at the business God has given us. Our vision statement says: “Fresno Pacific is a leading Christian university known for academic excellence, innovative programming and spiritual vitality.”

This expression actually is a combination of the two kinds of visions, and is an elaboration or restatement of the mission. We need to do some inventive work to create a pair of vision statements that paint compelling and distinctive pictures of what kind of Christian university we will become and how the world will be different if we succeed at our calling. We can work together on both vision statements while we move forward with our planning effort. In fact, deciding what our desired future should be can help us refine our summary vision statements.

A values statement declares what really matters to the people in the organization. Values determine the decisions and actions of each individual and of everyone together. Values can be internal or external or both. We say that “Fresno Pacific University embodies Christ-centered values.” Then we state five major values and list particulars under each of the five. You can look at the full list on the website at fresno.edu/about/mission_and_values or in the FPU academic catalogs.

Christian Community
Service to Others
Academic and Professional Excellence
Student Focus
Innovation and Responsiveness

A particular value that defines Christian community for us is cultural diversity. It is not something we value because it is pragmatically useful or socially necessary or politically correct or mandated by the government. Diversity is a core value of the church; it is the true character of the body of Christ on earth; it is a deep pattern of all creation. We value differences that make a community healthy, creative, resilient, powerful and transformative. We value the cultures defined by age, language, location, ethnicity, race, physical traits, emotional traits, personal tragedies, special abilities, special challenges, sex, wealth, poverty, intelligence, education, profession, political philosophy, church and an endless array of other differentiating and defining factors.

Each such culture can bring something valuable to a community that plans and collaborates to realize a shared future: family, church, organization, team or university. We want to be the unique community that only our diversity can create.

Rich Kriegbaum