Typical efforts in strategic planning go more or less like this:
A long meeting is scheduled, requiring the presence of many decision-makers. They begin by reviewing mission, vision and values of the company. Endless discussions ensue. Rinse and repeat.
And all this results in something like, “Our mission is to provide the best products and services to our customers, respecting our employees, suppliers and the environment.” As for vision, they decide on “being the most effective, productive and profitable company in the industry.” And the values end up being something like “honesty, collaboration and innovation”.
Then, we want to create a strategy to differentiate ourselves, that gives us a competitive edge in the market, around this exercise in obviousness.
It’s evident it won’t work.
That is why I always push for a value proposition.
“Value proposition”, as a concept, is much more interesting than the standard mission, vision and values. Instead of writing abstract, self-evident and generic things, it is about understanding what is the specific stance we want take on the market. It is a way of saying: there’s a problem that nobody is seeing and I am here to solve it.
Conventional planning exercises are focused on capturing value. But in order to capture it, you must first create that value.
That is why the value proposition speaks specifically about what kind of people we want to serve, and what is the formula with which we will serve them.
For example, when we were creating School of Change, we established that schools move at a certain speed and that the world moves at a different, much faster speed. There is a gap. That’s where School of Change can fit.
Thus, we can say: “School of Change exists to provide continuous education with clear relevance and a lot of engagement, by focusing on future-oriented skills and mindsets, and empowering professionals with tools to improve their performance immediately.”
This is much richer in meaning and potential than the typical mission, vision and values. And organizations can exponentiate every areas by adopting a value proposition and accepting it as their purpose.