Vocation, Vision and Value Proposition
The first and major ongoing job of any company leader is to define and articulate the Vocation of that company. Vocation is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action. In other words, a self-imposed calling to serve a certain set of customers or provide a certain set of solutions. What is the company about, and how will it serve its customers and stakeholders? A well-articulated Vocation statement helps to elicit drive and passion from its employees and loyalty from its customers, and keeps the company focused for success. We have chosen the word Vocation because it implies more than a Mission. Frankly, the Mission of most companies is mainly to make money for their owners and investors. A company’s Vocation is a shared compulsion to serve a certain market using a set of innate skills, passions and competencies within its workforce.
The Vocation is often best communicated through a clear, shared Vision of the companies future. The Vision is a story of how the company will look and feel, how life will be for employees and stakeholders, and how customers will benefit in the future as the company achieves success. The Vision, in the context of the Vocation, defines success!
The third major leg in the leadership stool is the Value Proposition. It should clearly define the segment of customers within the Vocation to be served, the particular set of common unmet or poorly met needs within this segment, the solution provided or proposed by our company, how this solution fulfills the unmet needs, and why the customers should prefer our solution over other ways of meeting those needs.
Every technology company has some form of a Vocation and a Vision (at least in the leaders mind) and one or more Value Propositions for various sets of needs. Many of them, however, do not bother to articulate or communicate these concepts so that they are unclear. Sometimes the Vocation or Vision changes in the leadership team, and those changes are not cascaded to the workforce or customers, causing confusion, frustration and reduced performance.
Except for companies with a “command and control” culture, where the leader makes all the decisions and everyone else just follows orders, all other companies need to provide the workforce with clear basis on how to make decisions and how to best serve their customers. The Three “V”s form this basis. An employee or contractor who clearly understands the Vocation of the company, clearly sees the Vision of success, and profoundly understands the Value Proposition of the solution he is developing or providing, will confidently charge ahead and make the right decisions in doing his job.