Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Vision of Carnegie Mellon

This week, we read an article about vision and how an organization should develop  its vision and core ideology. The article referenced a few well-known companies to illustrate visions, however the need for a vision is not limited to profit seeking companies. I examined the vision of our own university. On its website, Carnegie Mellon University states its vision as, “Carnegie Mellon will meet the changing needs of society by building on its traditions of innovation, problem solving, and interdisciplinarity.” CMU also states its mission statement as, “To create and disseminate knowledge and art through research and creative inquiry, teaching, and learning, and to transfer our intellectual and artistic product to enhance society in meaningful and sustainable ways. To serve our students by teaching them problem solving, leadership and teamwork skills, and the value of a commitment to quality, ethical behavior, and respect for others. To achieve these ends by pursuing the advantages of a diverse and relatively small university community, open to the exchange of ideas, where discovery, creativity, and personal and professional development can flourish.

How is vision different from a mission statement, and how much thought goes into developing each? Are CMU’s goals measurable, and what are its measures of success? How does the university work to achieve this mission? The article teaches us that goals should be short and long term. Visions need to have a “core ideology” and “envisioned future”. The core ideology connects with an organizations purpose. From the university’s vision, we can see there is a clear purpose for being, and the mission statement goes on to further describe that vision.

CMU clearly lays out its vision into 3 main targets: innovation, problem solving and interdisciplinary. I see this true in practice. CMU has a reputation for having an academic technology and innovation focus. Students come from all over the world because of CMU’s computer science and technology programs. The vision also states its focus on interdisciplinary. CMU is also well known for its arts programs, which reflects the vision and mission statement. The mission statement emphasizes the transfer of skills and knowledge through research, teaching and learning. I believe this reflects the university’s purpose for being. A university should be working towards transferring knowledge and teaching students skills that can benefit society. 

I think it is also important for an organization to look back at its vision to ensure that all of its actions are in line with it. From my perspective, CMU’s actions seem inline with its vision and to be working towards its purpose. I wonder how much emphasis the university puts on its vision when making its decisions. Is the entire organization encouraged to make its decisions with the vision in mind? Based on the reading, it seems that the leadership of an organization determines the vision. With a university as large as Carnegie Mellon, I assume it would be difficult for every individual to consider the vision that it did not have a role in forming when determining actions.

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