In the world of project management, Vision is the answer to the question “Why are we doing this?” or “What makes this worth doing?”The vision connects the project you are desining to something bigger or more important than the project itself.
Example: A project to redesign the billing practices in a British telecommunications company initially looked to the staff of the billing department as a directive from above. “We have to do this because the boss told us to,” the team said. From their perspective, the solution to the company’s billing problems was simply to add staff to the billing department.
Early in the project design session however, the following facts came to light.
- Customers were only getting one correct bill out of twelve.
- One third of their staff was devoted to fixing billing problems.
- The processes had been developed ten years ago, for a young/smaller company.
- They growth in the three years prior to this meeting was so rapid that all the systems were taxed to the limit.
By virtue of articulating clearly the current state of affairs in the billing operation, the billing staff realized the a just adding headcount would have resulted in a continued waste of people’s time fixing problems caused by antiquated systems.
This allowed them to see the legitimacy and urgency of the project. Their vision became “To Set the Company up for a Successful Second Decade.” The effect of vision on the billing staff was dramatic. For the first time, they saw themselves as key to the company’s future. Their project became compelling and exciting.
Any large and long-term project requires such a vision. If you don’t see a compelling reason for doing your project, then you should ask a lot of probing questions until you are convinced that the project is important. A vision can provide you an environment within which to operate, a small bubble of the future in which your project can be realized and on behalf of which you can take action.
An articulated vision can operate as a haven for you. It can be a place to which you can return; something you can remember that will straighten you out and get you back in action. After the billing department’s project design session, the staff when back to work in their old environment with all the same old problems to deal with. But they went armed with their vision so when they lost the reason for the project, they could bring it back into view.
The next blog post deals with Objectives, Conditions of Satisfaction and Milestones, the other components of Strategic Project Design.