Have you ever worked on a project where you were so consumed by the work that you never asked ‘why’? ‘Why are we doing this project? Why is it important? Why is everyone working 80 hours a week? You complete task after task after task without knowing ‘why’! Never thinking about the big picture strategy that could justify the insanity!
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone! Your view of the big picture is in the dark and your vision is clouded over as you struggle with your project’s sense of purpose! In short, you are working on a project without a visible Mission/Vision/Strategy (MVS) Statement. The MVS was never communicated to you and the team. The MVS has the answer; the project vision. The MVS communicates the big picture.
Communication is what we do on a daily basis with one another through many methods. According to Dictionary.Com (1), Communication is the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs. According to PMBOK, 4thedition, communication is the management of project information. (2).
Communication is the process used by one person to send information to another person. For example, using the PMBOK Basic Communication Model (3), a Business Owner (sender) communicates a new website idea to a Project Manager (receiver). The Project Manager receives the information and translates it back to the Business Owner. This process of communicating has been with us since the dawn of time. If we really are communicating, why do projects fail? Is communication the root of the problem? Many project managers will say timelines were too aggressive, there was not enough money; the client submitted additional requests, etc. Communication is the basis for everything we say, hear, do, learn, and see. We communicate:
For each of these topics, we have forms, templates and processes.
Did you notice the above list does not include a mission, vision and strategy statement? Is it part of a company’s Organizational Process Assets (OPA)? The MVS should be part of every OPA. Organizations have MVS statements that are communicated to employees, clients and the public at large. You may see them advertised on TV, displayed in a newspaper ad, or on a nice tombstone at Company headquarters. Some are easy to remember with a catchy phrase while others never grab their audiences’ attention. All projects should have a MVS statement. The MVS statement provides focus to the project team. Like a surgeon performing an operation, a MVS is critical to the success of a project.
There should be an entire process for developing a MVS statement, communicating it and ensuring the project team embraces it. Everything that happens during a project should be the result of the MVS. Project teams should implement the following in support of the MVS.
>————–> frequent reminders of the MVS <——————-> a dedicated website——————>
>————–> associating all work to the MVS <—————— > visible display of the MVS——— >
A formal communication methodology ensures the MVS is communicated to all project stakeholders to maintain MVS focus and answer those ‘why’ questions. Frequent reminders keep the MVS fresh and alive with the project stakeholders. A dedicated website supports the importance of the MVS and promotes MVS visibility. Associating all work to the MVS ensures everyone understands why they are working so hard, what the end goal is and helps the stakeholders embrace and believe in it.
A MVS will keep the project team focused on where they are, where they are headed, and why they are doing what they do. It creates an atmosphere of teamwork, focus and collective enthusiasm ensuring project success. The MVS ensures you won’t have to ask ‘Where did we go wrong’.
1. – Communication definition – Dictionary.com
2. – PMBOK, 4th edition. Page 243
3. – PMBOK, 4th edition. Page 255