Cultivating Long Term Vision

My two kids are athletes who take tremendous pride in their performance. As it did for me, athletics has cultivated their goal setting and time management skills; it has also fostered resilience and perseverance. I admire Bennett and Olive very much and often marvel at their burgeoning ability to make informed, smart decisions that fuel their goals. But sometimes … they don’t.

Though hockey is not his primary sport, my son Bennett has been playing goal since he was five years old. Over time, he’s become known for two things: (a) filling the net (he’s always the biggest kid on the team); and, (b) an awesome glove that rarely fails to catch the puck. Recently, however, his tactile acuity has diminished. Turns out, the kid hasn’t been wearing the contact lenses that are essential to his effectiveness. He can’t see!

I was furious when this came to light last month. First and foremost, we paid a lot of money for special Ortho-K contacts that are purposefully designed to correct myopia. Second, his decision was so shortsighted (pardon the pun!). I wore thick glasses my whole life and this kid was undermining a technology designed to avoid that reality. Third, he put himself at physical risk: as a goalie or pitcher, seeing the object that is coming at lightening speed towards your head is fundamental to personal and brain safety.

Weeks later, I’m still disappointed by Bennett’s decision. The benefit of reflection, however, has served to reinforce a key lesson for parents and educators alike. Quite simply, individuals and organizations sometimes sacrifice long-term aspirations for what’s easiest, familiar or most comfortable (which was the issue with the contacts — they are reportedly ‘scratchy’). In the organizational context, these decisions also typically compromise short- and medium-term efficiency, effectiveness, and quality.

Having spent the last two weeks in Ottawa with members of Polytechnics Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada, I’ve been privy to presentations from innovators, disrupters and visionaries who are challenging the status quo in Canadian post secondary education. A failure to adapt and embrace the future, they argue, puts us at grave risk of becoming irrelevant.

As we navigate our strategic planning process, I’m more committed than ever to ensuring we’re making the right decisions now to position us for 2024 and beyond. Frankly, we need to put in our contact lenses, squint to see the future, and demonstrate foresight. If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at this EDUCAUSE Horizon Report on trends, challenges and developments: