Vocational communities

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What is a vocational community?

A vocation is more than a job. It is often associated with ‘calling’ and at times attracts a spiritual connotation. A vocation is a contribution that expresses who we are. We bring our whole selves to it. And it is purposeful. So a vocation facilitates us contributing our best to society.

A vocational community is therefore a ‘container’ that facilitates people living out their vocations collectively, recognising that we can achieve more in concert than we can individually.

A vocational community can be recognised from the following attributes:

  1. People have authority to make decisions about the most important aspects of their role. This is more than delegated power, it is autonomy to create and be more than what is required to be a cog in the organisational machine.
  2. People can bring and be themselves; styles, relational connections, hobbies …
  3. Activity is purposeful and is connected to a greater positive contribution for which the community exists.

Relatively few people have ever experienced work in an environment with these attributes. The dominant organisational model is better described with the antitheses of these. The assumptions behind current organisational practices include:

  • Bosses know best and therefore make the most important decisions,
  • Non-professional aspects of people’s lives are a distraction at work,
  • People’s role at work is to play a predefined role in an organisational hierarchy in service of the organisation’s mission.

This thinking served us well in the past. But once you have experienced a vocational community there is no going back.

Here’s a brief account of a vocational community I helped design and lead. The Ergo Story