Vision, Role, Person, Strengths and Challenge – Principles for Communication

I have been fortunate in my life to have spent appreciable time with some great leaders. One common characteristic of these leaders is how they craft communication. Even though the situations might be different, their process was often the same.

If you find yourself needing to craft a strong, succinct message around a difficult topic, you can use the concept of Vision, Role, Person, Challenge to guide you. Doing so will make your message easier to understand, more believable, and more actionable.

I was having a conversation with a director yesterday about 2014 planning. We discussed creating a job description for a critical role in 2014. We discussed interview strategies for this role. We discussed how to get the most out of high-potential and highly-functioning employee who would only be there for a short period of time.

I realized yesterday, my advice for these different situations came back to the same principle: Vision, Role, Person, Challenge. This is a scaffolding for successful communication.


As a leader you cannot talk about the vision of the organization too much. This is your verbal picture of things to come. When you create a vivid picture. you create strong beliefs, and you tie your group’s daily thought and actions to that vision.

I do not believe that organizational loyalty exists. People have loyalty to each other; however, people do not have loyalty to an organization. As soon as family, personal interest or other significant motivators pull them away from your vision, there is little choice but to separate or at least dream of finding greener pastures.

If there is no vision, there is no anchor. People will randomly come and go. If the vision is strong and well understood, the people thatbelieve the vision will enhance their lives will gravitate toward you. All the sudden you will find yourself surrounded by people with similar goals and beliefs about how the world should be (or will be).

Your vision will often begin with “I believe…” or “There exists…” or “I see…” or “We will…” or a combination of all four. Here is an example:

I believe there is a faster and safer way to drive from point A to point B. There exists the talent in this organization to create the technology that automates driving at high speed. I see a world where the average commuter travels beyond 150mph and traffic accidents are no longer the leading killer of teenagers. We will make this world a safer and more efficient place.”

I believe that people function better when they think and act beyond just themselves. Religion is an incredible example of this belief.

Once you have stated your vision, the next step is to tie the vision to your member’s roles.


Everyone plays roles: spouse, parent, engineer, technician, etc.. These roles do not define us as people; however, they often do define our interactions with others. Every member plays a role within your organization. That role is important! Otherwise, the member probably would not be there.

Articulate the role well. Define how the role’s actions and responsibilities support the vision. Define how the role interacts with other roles.

Like the vision, the role is beyond any one person even when just one person plays a specific role. When a person fits himself or herself into a role, they have a duty to more than just themselves. Their thoughts and actions should support the team.

Person (Strengths and Challenge)

People are complex. You probably only understand a small fraction about a person through your interactions and observations. Even though you probably cannot define that person, you can use your interactions and observations to relate.

Discuss the person’s strengths and abilities that contribute to their role. What is special about that person? What challenges do you see that person needing to overcome to support the role? Most people want to feel special and challenged at the same time. The brain lives and thrives in this juxtaposition.

Challenge the person to grow. What can you to on Friday that you could not do on Monday? What is your promise to yourself and your organization? What is your personal vision of success? How does your vision relate to the organization’s vision?

If I could wish any knowledge upon managers, I would start with Strengthsfinder 2.0 and Social Styles. At $14, Strengthsfinder carries the single biggest value for individual coaching available today. Social Styles is a bit more expensive, but it is amazingly impactful on team communication.

Apply This to ERP

Imaging being responsible for launching a ERP initiative. ERP is historically very expensive, very disruptive and carries a high risk of failure; however, ERP can deliver big benefits for your organization in terms of efficiency, accuracy and insight. If you believe it is the way to achieve your organization’s vision, you have a responsibility to pursue it.

  • Company meeting: much about the vision and some about the roles
  • Group meetings: reinforce the vision and much about the roles
  • Individual meetings: reinforce the vision, apply the roles, focus on individual strengths and challenges.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have feedback.

What is the best way to Learn iDempiere and ADempiere?

I teach an on-line class that covers how to learn, configure and audit open source ERP. It uses iDempiere as the reference ERP.  Here are more details. I have learned much over the last ten years, and I have much to share. I look forward to seeing you there!!

Why consider Open Source ERP

Open source ERP gives you every opportunity to prove or disprove its ability to support your company’s ERP needs on a timeline that satisfies your organizational needs. With open source ERP, you do not face the same financial constraints nor do you face the same conflicts of interest as with commercial ERP. Instead, you invest in the appropriate skills and knowledge for your people and processes. Best of all – if open source ERP cannot solve your company’s needs, you can safely justify spending the additional $2K to $5K per person per year for life of your commercial ERP to help drive your organization’s success.

ADempiere vs iDempiere vs Openbravo vs Compiere

The ADempiere, iDempiere, Openbravo and Compiere environments are amazingly similar. iDempiere came from ADempiere. ADempiere and Openbravo came from Compiere. Compiere came from Jorg Janke. Jorg came from Oracle. As a result, iDempiere and ADempiere have much in common with Oracle’s ERP in terms of the financial feature set.

This is both good and bad. Good because iDempiere and ADempiere are quite capable to help a company grow beyond $500M USD. Bad because they tend to be more complex in that they account for multiple languages, accounting schemas, currencies, calendars, costing types, costing methods, etc…. If you are a growing organization, and you need a system that will grow with you, and you have the right internal talent/resources, iDempiere or ADempiere will be a big asset for you.

The biggest difference between these products is that ADempiere and iDempiere are pure open source. ADempiere and iDempiere make all feature available for free. Compiere and Openbravo hold back features behind a commercial or paid license.

iDempiere and ADempiere vs OpenERP

iDempiere/ADempiere (iD/AD) and OpenERP approach ERP from two very different directions. OpenERP comes out of the box with very simple options. If you are coming from QuickBooks, and you need a simple ERP system help you manage your business, OpenERP will look and feel comfortable.

iD/AD comes out of the box with every feature installed and configured to run a $200M+ USD business. If your business is growing rapidly, and you are willing to invest the time to learn an enterprise accounting system, then iD/AD will give you confidence.

Which one is best for you depends on your internal talent, growth and business complexity. Here is a post to help you learn more.


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