Defining a Community’s Purpose

Beijing, 2018-2019

NoTosh Team

Ewan McIntosh, Gerry Farrell

A Collaborative Process to definE Mission, Core Values and Vision

International School of Beijing

The community at the International School of Beijing is a special one, with a global reputation for the performance of its teaching team and students. But the community wanted to sum up its purpose, steering values and create a vision that could provoke a fresh future direction.

The Board and Leadership Team at the International School of Beijing (ISB) wanted their mission to be so much more than a plaque on the wall.

The Board placed trust in NoTosh’s Design Thinking process to test the assumptions behind the existing mission, by undertaking a massively collaborative community design process.

The process was community-centred, community-informed, and brought together voices from every corner of the campus and beyond, including alumni. Data was gathered in many languages, and storytelling became the key vehicle to fill in the gaps of the usual school surveys of parents, staff, and students.

Upon the unveiling of the new mission, the entire school community was invited to have their say and vote on whether they approved or not of the re-articulated mission and vision. In an overwhelmingly positive reception, the community voted 94% in favour of the changes proposed.

The impact of the work taken on by ISB is already visible and being seen across the school in several ways. The shared language of the school’s existing design cycle was reinforced by NoTosh’s Design Thinking approach across the school from playground to staff meetings.

The process has been hugely emotional for the school community. Head Patrick Hurworth has described the project as being tremendously gratifying and has aptly captured the spirit of the school. The stories have contributed to a more inclusive, shared, and impassioned understanding of all that ISB is and created more focussed communications and an environment that thrives on change, innovation, and a culture of sharing.

"This has probably been the most collaborative process I’ve ever been involved in.”

Patrick Hurworth, Head of School, International School of Beijing.
Find out more about our Values and Strategy Program
< See all Case Studies