I'm delivering a private session tomorrow on Legal Project Management. I saw an article this evening - it's evening where I am right now - that ties right in.
One of the topics I almost always cover is the importance of vision. Not vision statements, which are overcrafted words that often amount to meaningless drivel, but vision itself. What's the world look like when you're Done? What's the desired end state?
Too many people think, Who cares? What's that have to do with Legal Project Management?
Well, it has everything to do with LPM, as I'll explain tomorrow and whenever else I deliver these types of sessions. It seems hokey, but having a clear vision can make all the difference between success and indifferent failure.
Here's the article, in TechnoLawyer: Why hasn't Google been successful at anything besides search? YouTube doesn't count for two reasons. First, it's not making money, as far as anyone can tell. Second, it operates semi-autonomously outside the GooglePlex.
Google has a brilliant, memorable, crisp vision: " to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." Clear. Succinct. Easy for Googlers to relate to. Easy to test their work against.
So do it. Test their work against their vision.
Search? Check. Perfect fit.
YouTube? Pretty good. YouTubers - I love the couch-'tater implications in that term - often create said information seconds before they "organize" it, but nonetheless, it fits.
Google Checkout? Eek. If the information includes my credit card number, I don't want them organizing it, let along making it universally accessible.
Google Apps? They're not bad products at all1, but what do they have to do with Google's vision? One could make a convoluted case as to how they apply, but convoluted is the operative word.
Google Voice? Great app, but tell me again how that vision applies?
Android? Chrome? Buzz? (Anyone remember Buzz? Anyone actually know what it was supposed to be?)
During my first decade at Microsoft, the vision was "a computer on every desktop and in every home, running Microsoft software." Clear, crisp, easy to work with. Windows? Check. Office? Check. Visual C? Enabling the developer community to write great software that made people need that Windows/Office ecosystem. IE? SQL Server? LanMan? (You remember LanMan? Really?) Even the much maligned Microsoft Bob fit that vision.
When I was working to create answers to the Netscape browser, it was clear how my work fit that vision, and it drove me night and day. When I ran a product and I saw a way that would boost Windows sales significantly even though it might cut my product's revenue, there wasn't a flicker of doubt that I should do what benefited the company even at the potential expense of my own revenue number. We didn't recite the vision out loud every day like some sort of pledge of allegiance, but it was the standard against which we weighed our commercial actions. If it didn't fit the vision, don't do it. If it fit, go for it!
So when I tell you tomorrow or at some future seminar or on the web or in print that a vision really does matter, look at Microsoft (ca. 1989-1997) and Google (ca. 2005-2010). It really does matter. It's not about words, but about setting direction.
Leaders set direction. Visions set direction. Project managers set direction.
Get aligned in the right direction. Have a clear vision.
Then hire committed, smart people and get out of their way.
Really. There's the secret to business life. And it didn't cost you anything. (Though if you profit from it, you might buy me a beer next time you see me.)
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