A project vision statement can be important for some projects - but a vision statement is worthless, of course, unless other people know about it. If you are using a project vision statement, make sure that it is widely distributed and focused on the right target audience. Ensure that the right people receive the statement at the right time.

Making the vision statement public has obvious benefits, which are important to state here. For example, it gives people a sense of the scope of the project. It establishes the groundwork for effective communication via a common language and mental framework. Finally, it helps build a sense of community.


But the challenges of communication are many. Mental paradigms, values, beliefs, and attitudes, for example, may restrict how the vision statement is received. People tend to filter or slant the message. Also, 'pockets of resistance' exist, reflecting non-acceptance of the vision. That resistance might be covert (subtle, negative comments) or overt (vocalizing opposition). Another challenge is to cut through the layers of bureaucracy.

Organizational layers may filter or alter the message, either intentionally or inadvertently. The project manager may want to try publishing the vision statement in an internal newsletter or post it on the project's web site if one exists. He may also want to conduct information-sharing sessions or give presentations. He'll want to provide a copy for each project manual and reiterate it at training sessions and other meetings. The key is to ensure the vision statement is brought to everyone's attention.

Keeping People Focused on the Vision

Most project managers realize through experience that it is easy to get sidetracked - that is, to lose sight of the vision while 'fighting fires.' The PM must be concerned about not letting those fires distract him or the team. If they become distracted the likelihood increases for the schedule to slide, the project to overrun the budget, and the output to be inferior.

The project manager must take the lead in asking whether each process, activity, or action will achieve the vision. He continually raises the issue of direction, although he wants everyone to do the same. And there are several ways he can ensure that people stay focused, such as collecting and evaluating data regarding schedule and budget; tracking past performance and projecting the future; identifying likely risks and ways to respond; instituting change management disciplines; and collecting and evaluating measurements and metrics on quality.

Use it to garner interest, support, cohesiveness, and project visibility for your project. Get your team to own the project vision to help facilitate dedication and higher project performance ... and that is where we begin our discussion

Facilitating and Expediting Performance

Most project teams do not operate in a vacuum. They face obstacles and frustrations, such as not having the right equipment or having to deal with bureaucratic politics. In addition, project managers can frustrate or facilitate the performance of team members.

The project manager, of course, wants to facilitate rather than impede performance. He faces constraints on his power, yet he refuses to give in. He strives to eliminate physical distractions like noisy equipment, to ensure the availability of the right tools such as the right software, computers and telecommunication equipment, to shield the team from administrative red tape like extra paperwork, etc., and to handle the political aspects of the project like interference in daily activities by senior management.

The project manager does not address every problem or obstacle that confronts the team. But he determines what is important, in light of whether it affects the achievement of the vision.

Motivation to Participate

The project manager understands that, without people, the project does not exist. He also knows that without motivated people, performance will suffer. To motivate his team, The project manager must have insight into human behavior and direct it toward achieving the vision.

Motivation deals with the internal conditions that encourage people to act or not to act. It is a complex process that remains intriguing to psychologists and layman alike. From Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung to contemporary practitioners, the mystery of human behavior remains, despite growth in our knowledge. From a managerial perspective, there are many theories that work most of the time, but not always, and have proved useful for project managers.