A few weeks ago we ran a short series on cultivating vision… these posts were not perfunctory. They were, in fact, my own practice of establishing the Preemptive Love Coalition with my wife, Jessica, and Cody Fisher.
In our earliest days we said our mission as an organization was to “eradicate the backlog of children in Iraq waiting in line for lifesaving heart surgery.” But the best visions and missions are dynamic, almost alive; they mature. And we are excited to bring you along in our vision as it has matured in recent months.
We have learned a lot more about this field in which we work than we knew when we started out. Additionally, the country and the individual regions of Iraq have changed drastically since we arrived. There were numerous occasions in which we said, “Does our mission still fit?”
Below are three ways in which we realized our vision was “off”:
#1: The Math—How We Saw the Problem
The math does not add up for us to “eradicate the backlog” on our own. Indeed, our vision in 2007 had largely to do with 700 known children in one Kurdish province who were in need of surgery; we now know about thousands waiting in nearly every one of Iraq’s 18 provinces. And we estimate 6,000-11,000 new children annually are born in Iraq with congenital heart defects.
How we see the problem determines how we shape our vision for the future. A problem with 700 localized constituents might warrant one vision. A nationwide problem with perpetuity and tens of thousands of constituents likely calls for a different vision altogether.
#2: The Method—How We Addressed the Problem
Local doctors set the stage by telling families there were no solutions in Iraq for their children who needed heart surgery. That was true. So families, local development experts, political figures and doctors all asked us to assist by sending children outside the country. On the one hand, we met a real need. On the other hand, we lacked imagination and delayed the development of long-term local solutions. It took us almost three years to imagine and implement our Remedy Missions—a far better use of resources to create local-led solutions for this local problem.
#3: The Message—How We Talked About Solutions
Because we began by exporting the Iraqi congenital heart disease problem to others countries, we largely failed to factor local healthcare experts into our vision for the future. We worked with one local cardiologist, but when we talked about our solution for “eradicating the backlog”, we largely talked about you; the donor—and how you were the solution to all the ills facing these dear families. We set up web pages and called on you to save the lives of children like Aras, Shad and Nivar. We still call on you to help save lives—but we feel much more keenly today that our message has matured, because our methods are finally dependent on locals. And that has happened because both statistics and ethics compelled us to see the problem differently.
In part two of this post we’ll actually articulate our vision as it has matured. Come back next Tuesday to read more. In the mean-time, why don’t you contact me with your own thoughts and stories about vision? Please email me at your convenience. I would love to hear from you.