“A vision is a picture of a better future. In MSP® it is the basis for the outcomes and delivered benefits of the programme. As such it is a vital focus and enabler for the buy-in, motivation and activity alignment of the large community of stakeholders involved in any programme.”
Managing Successful Programmes (MSP), AXELOS
A strong and clear vision is often the difference between the ultimate success of any project or programme. As a project or programme manager you can measure variables such as time or cost, but ultimately if the change, product or service you are looking to deliver does not align to a strategic initiative of the organization, the value it delivers will likely be lacking.
As the definition above states, the vision provides:
- Alignment to strategic objectives
- A clear way of communicating where we want to be in the future
- A tool to motivate stakeholders towards that future state.
Yet good visions, or vision statements are often difficult to create. They should be simple enough that they can be easily communicated (and understood) but must also accurately convey the picture of the future state.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate how effective a clear vision can be, is to share with you an example of an initiative I worked on while working for AXELOS in the UK.
The programme to update PRINCE2® in 2017 was a fairly large and complex piece of work. It started at the end of 2015 (and is still ongoing with current translation work), involved many stakeholders (authors, reviewers, AXELOS staff, training organizations, examination institutes, end-learners and many more) and consisted of many stages. Yet there was always a clear internal vision that we wanted the update to;
- Build on the existing success and wide adoption of PRINCE2 across the world
- Maintain the core of the seven principles, themes and processes
- Provide additional and practical guidance on how to tailor PRINCE2 to any project environment.
As the marketing lead for the update I needed to find a way in which we could communicate these messages in a clear and visual way. We needed something that would underpin all of our marketing, from the announcement through to the launch and later promotion. And on top of that we needed to communicate to our whole eco-system, from end-learners through to accredited training organizations and thought leaders.
We found it in a Tangram.
For those of you who don’t know what a Tangram is, it is a traditional Chinese puzzle (although I will add the origin is hotly debated) which is seven different shapes which come together to form a square. The shapes can then be moved around to form any number of new and different shapes.
In regard to the update, it resonated so well with the internal vision as it depicted both the stable core (of the seven principles, themes and processes) and the malleable nature of PRINCE2, to be tailored to any project environment.
The Tangram also provided a reference point for teams within AXELOS to view the update. Whether they were one of the marketing functions looking to promote the update through their managed channel, or another team trying to understand how the update impacted them, it provided a clear way in which to understand and talk about the update with other stakeholders.
For me, one of the biggest challenges in marketing the PRINCE2 2017 update was ensuring that we both reassured the market that the change was both evolutionary (not revolutionary) and new enough to generate excitement.
The PRINCE2 2017 update marketing is something that I can look back on proudly, and the Tangram was an instrumental part of that.
To finish, I want to share a couple of questions with you which will hopefully help you create a successful vision statement in the future:
- Who is the audience for your vision statement? Is what you’ve created appropriate for that audience?
- Is the vision statement engaging? Does it pique people’s interest?
- How easy is it to communicate? If someone were to read it or have it briefly explained, does it make sense to them? Could they then explain it to someone else?
- Does it underpin the essence of what it is you’re trying to achieve?
Although simple in nature, visions, and vision statements are crucial tools in communicating often complex ideas or changes, to stakeholders. They act as reference points to ensure strategic alignment of the initiative and galvanize support for change.