Web Metrics | Search Marketing
Site Strategy

"In a nutshell, Jason created our marketing analytics capability. He was able to figure out what data we collect, where it is, what was missing, and hook it all up so we canget meaningful, actionable data. Our marketing efforts have improved leads and conversions in some cases by an order of magnitude. He knows his stuff."
Chris Foleen, Marketing Project Coordinator, TransCore, Inc.


Friday, May 16, 2008

The Vision Statement

I've been thinking about vision statements a lot lately. I'm in the middle of outlining a large web project with different stakeholders from different business units, each with different agendas and ideas about how the website should fit into the company and what it should do. Each of them are really nice people with honest and good intentions. However, they each are working from their own business perspective. Profits, losses, goals and sales tactics are on their mind--the details of growing their respective businesses. Trying to get them to come together around a common vision is a challenge, and something that may not come naturally. But it is important if this web project is going to be coordinated, serve the common good, and not need to be overhauled in six months.

I absolutely believe the most important first step of any project (after the stakeholders have been identified) is to create a common vision of what the end result should be. Encapsulating it in a Vision Statement that sits right at the front of the project document is key. But, a vision statement can go awry and become divisive if care is not taken.

Aspects of a vision statement

  • A vision statement is not requirements. If the words "should" or "must" show up in your vision statement, you're off track and into requirements land. This is not the time to start sketching features and usability. Keep the requirements and requirement language out.
  • A vision statement does not drag people along. If you write your vision statement and then grit your teeth at the prospect of showing it to the other stakeholders, press delete, not send.
  • A vision statement is not long. If you are doing a lot of explaining in your vision statement, then you need to put aside the laptop and do some more thinking about what it is you are actually envisioning. It does not need to be too short, but it should be an efficient use of language, as my college poetry teacher used to say.
  • A vision statement is simple. Don't over complicate it, even big projects can have simple descriptions. It's the "elevator pitch"--your 10 second explanation of what you are setting out to do. If the vision is too complicated, consider a phased approach or break the project up into smaller bites. Take Google's mission statement as an example: "Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." Wow. A bit grandiose, but you have to give them points for keeping it short and simple.
  • A vision statement is subjective. It can even be, dare I say it, fluffy. It can be abstract and emotional. It's the kind of thing that makes you say, "Yeah, that's right on!". It has nothing to do with check lists.
  • A vision statement is the final gut check for a project. When the whole thing is built and tested and you are on your last sanity-check before launch, sit down, take a cleansing breath and revisit your vision statement. Does it ring true or not? If so, your vision is realized. If not, well...figure out quickly what happened before the phone starts ringing.
  • A vision statement is uniting. This is the single most important aspect. If your team of stakeholders cannot agree on a common vision, your project will fail.

No comments:

Post a Comment