I’ve made the argument that the boxes and lines of models don’t matter as much as the content that occupies those boxes. I’ll go one step further. What really matters is the messiness that underlies that content. Models attempt to simplify and create meaning. The content within the model is just the aggregate representation of the situation in an organization at any given moment in time. Change the context and circumstances, and you will likely wind up with a very different representation that leads to very different interpretations and conclusions. Simplicity is a distraction. If you want to really know what is going on, then you need to embrace the messiness.
Vision statements—like mission statements—need to be specific, meaningful and clear. They reflect our future aspirations, and are an important test of where we are going and why that is important. Like mission statements, though, vision is often vague, imprecise and overly general. For vision to do something, it has to say something.
Pick a strategic plan. Any strategic plan. Read the mission statement, and ask what it tells you about what makes the organization it belongs to unique. All too often, the answer to that is “not much.” Rather than being defining statements of purpose, mission statements are often vague, generalized and designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It doesn’t have to be this way.
We often think we know what we mean when we use the term “strategic.” It’s self evident, right? Except, in my experience, it is very often not. Strategic is often viewed as a vague concept outlining general ideas that don’t really provide much guidance, direction or usefulness. Which is exactly what we don’t need more of. My take on what strategic looks like, and the meaning that you should be seeking.
I’ve long argued that organizational practices need to be adapted to an organization if they are going to be effective. They need to fit the culture, and make sense in the way that the organization works. But what happens when you do all the right things, push all the right buttons, and the practices don’t get used? A curious case study.
The role of project sponsor is critical. With their support, projects have an opportunity for success. Without it, failure is almost certain, even for the most talented and capable teams. Despite this, there’s astonishingly little guidance in how to be a great project sponsor. And real life examples of awesome project sponsorship are few and far between.