With all the benefits of having a vision, why do many project managers fail to assume the leadership role in developing a shared vision up front?
One reason is that many project managers subscribe to the prevailing paradigm of analysis, precision, and perfection . They view defining a vision as something too wishy-washy or touchy-feely ; as some nonquantifiable abstraction. Instead, they focus on the explicit, not implicit, side of project management.
Under the new paradigm of project management, the emphasis shifts to the implicit aspects of projects, recognizing that a project involves integrated, nonlinear thinking. This recognition acknowledges the existence of subjective factors in achieving results.
Interestingly, many project managers, if they do attempt to develop a vision, stress the quantitative factors. If anything is not measurable, it is omitted. Or they include many qualitative factors that are so high level that it is impossible to ascertain progress or successful completion. In the former case, a vision will likely fail to elicit passion, commitment, ownership, or engage people. In the latter case, they leave too much open to interpretation; provide the opportunity for disagreement ( especially over semantics); allow for a lack of focus; and yield to unrealistic demands related to scope, quality, schedule, and cost.
A good vision requires a balance of the qualitative and the quantitative, reflecting these attributes:
Allow visualization using both (left and right) hemispheres of the brain
Be clear, that is, understandable
Have an emotional meaning to stakeholders
Offer tangible (e.g., measurable) and intangible (e.g., abstract) contents
Provide the basis to align and focus all project energies and efforts