Project Management Institute

A Sight to Behold

Project Leaders Need to Create a Compellling Vision so the Team Stays Focused on What Really Matters

By Marat Oyvetsky, PMP

Project professionals tend to focus on the project plan—all the tasks and milestones that help track projects to a timely completion within budget. But the challenge many project leaders face when running into execution issues has nothing to do with the plan or communicating it to the project team and stakeholders. It has to do with the project vision—or the absence of one.

In my experience, project leaders who create a project vision and clearly communicate that vision to the team and stakeholders from the start see a measurable increase in the successful implementation. Here's how you can land on the right vision and make sure your team takes it to heart.


Every project has (or at least should have!) a unique purpose. Understanding the reason for implementing the project and the risks involved if it is not completed successfully is the first step in crafting a strong project vision. The vision statement—which should be developed collaboratively with team members and key stakeholders—needs to answer these questions:

• What is the purpose?

• What defines successful execution?

• What is my role in ensuring a successful execution?

• What will occur if this project is not successfully implemented?

A vision statement needs to be clear, concise and actionable. It should do the following:

1. Summarize the project with a powerful phrase.

2. Describe the best achievable outcome.

3. Inspire passion for the outcome.

4. Create a cohesive picture in team members’ minds.

Here's an example from a merger and acquisition project requiring two large companies to merge their IT infrastructures together. Although the project was large and complex with many teams and multiple dependencies, the vision statement was simple: “One IT Team, One IT Infrastructure.”


Settling on a vision statement is just the start. Project leaders need to bring the vision alive—each team member and stakeholder must have a clear sense of how their role ties back to the vision and how their contribution will help achieve the vision. For this reason, project leaders must connect the vision to milestones and tasks for the entire team.

How is this done? Share project success stories when the team reaches every milestone. Many organizations send out email news bulletins throughout implementation that reinforce the project vision for the team, stakeholders and organization. But be careful not to grow too attached to any vision. If a project experiences a major scope shift, its vision might become obsolete. A strong project leader steps up to redefine it and realign the team around it. PM

img Marat Oyvetsky, PMP, is program director at Trace3, San Diego, California, USA.
This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.



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