The project vision statement provides a clear message of what the project aims to achieve. It helps focus stakeholders and developers on the key elements and features being developed for the product of the project. It works as a high-level road-map of what success looks like for the team.
The Project Vision Statement Workshop
Strong facilitation and a sense of direction helps avoid common vision statement workshop pitfalls. The project will not solve everything. And, the budget will support a limited number of features.
The goal of the vision statement workshop is to be able to answer YES to all of these elements. Ask the team if they achieved these goals. When they do, the vision is healthy and the team achieved the workshop goal.
- I understand how my daily work contributes to the vision
- My group plans projects (funds, time and people) based on supporting the vision
- I choose training that helps me better support the vision
- I am energized by the vision and see others supporting it on a daily basis
- If I meet or exceed my business goals, it helps the team meet the vision
What does a Project Vision Look Like?
Creating a clear, compelling vision is hard work. The purpose of this exercise is to clearly identify what will be done and how the work will be accomplished. If this is the first time your team is creating a project vision, keep the discussion focused on the project goal. Have the product manager, development team, and any key stakeholders participate in developing and supporting the vision.
Step 1: Start with the feasibility study or project request and Brainstorm!
The feasibility study (if available) or product request forms the foundation of the discussion. Everybody has to understand what is being requested to be produced. The team then works out the key features that would be important in meeting the requirements from the study or request. Teams routinely generate 20 to 100 features when brainstorming, especially when using Ideo brainstorming techniques or other brainstorming tools.
Step 2: Narrow down the feature list to 3 or 4 key requirements that would sell the product
Here’s an idea – create a ideas and features as the project vision for the product. The goal: pick out 3 or 4 key features that will sell the product. By forcing the team to pick the top 3-4 items and then agreeing on them unanimously, the team is forced to focus on the key product selling features. This works for brainstorming sessions reducing the feature list created in the session to the 5 key features mandatory for the product. It achieves the same result. Crystallizing features and benefits sometimes becomes too challenging without visual aids.
The facilitator needs to bring the following items:
- A box (preferably white) for the product
- Markers (as many colors as practical)
- Clip art and access to a color printer
- Glue sticks
Try developing a pretend product package that would capture the key benefits of the product created by the project and give the viewer a reason to buy or use the product. This works even if the product is an idea. The box should be big enough to fit on a store shelf, but no bigger than a one foot cube.
- Why does a customer want to use your product?
- What does it do differently from competing products?
- How would you communicate this information to somebody who never heard of your product before?
Step 3: Use the Product Package to Spread the Project Vision
Communicate the results and the vision to all stakeholders and team members. The product vision package doesn’t have to look like an ad agency polished the box for distribution. For smaller projects, showing the project vision package at each team meeting helps build team unity. For larger projects or projects with greater funding, having a creative ad agency create actual product boxes for each team member may help build team morale and focus them during sprints. Each team has different needs for motivation.
The big idea: Communicate the project vision broadly.