Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Overlooked Uses of Vision and Mission

Everyone knows that you need a shared vision and mission for a project. Otherwise, every team member will take you where he or she thinks you are going, rather than where the project should actually be going. But the vision and mission for a project should go well beyond this. In fact, they should inform every decision and action taken on a daily basis. And what I am about to say goes beyond the project manager. It will apply to every single member of the project team and every single stakeholder.

Every decision and every action taken in a project should be done after asking, “How do I make this decision or take this action step in such a way that it contributes to the attainment of our project vision and mission?” An alternative way to consider this is to ask if a decision choice or action will move you closer to the desired outcome, and if not, it should be rejected.

In the same way, team members should be selected by asking if they are the best candidate to ensure that the project is successful (meaning it achieved it’s vision and mission). And once selected, their performance should be evaluated based on how well it contributed to attainment of the project objective. This assumes, of course that you choose your own team members, but even if you don’t, whoever does choose them should be asking these same questions.

Remember, the vision for a project defines the final outcome you are trying to accomplish, and the mission is always to achieve the vision, so we really only need to ask if we are moving closer to mission attainment, or if we may be taking a wrong step.

As an aside, one reason priorities in an organization change with every change in wind direction is that the executives are not focused on a single vision for the organization. Either that, or they are failing to prioritize their goals, and the proof of this is when you ask for priorities and get the response, “They all have to be done.” That may be true, but without having unlimited resources, they cannot all be done at once. As someone has very correctly said, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Study after study has found that one of the primary reasons for failure is lack of focus. Don’t let that be true in your projects.

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