Some years ago, the project manager of our software project was having a hard time collecting all the stakeholders for our project.
In the mean time, in order to do something useful (or maybe not so useful, see later) the project team crafted part of the Vision document for the project.
As we were using RUP in our project, part of the Vision was to document the problem statement and the product position statement.
The problem statement is a solution-neutral summary of the stakeholders’ shared understanding of the problem to be solved.
The product position statement is the “mission statement” for the system to be built (the solution).
After a while, when all the stakeholders were connected to our project, we proudly presented our problem statement and product position statement.
The stakeholders were not amused! Even though the crafted statements made some sense, they definitely were not discussed with the stakeholders and therefor did not describe a shared understanding of neither the problem nor the solution. Our Vision was not a shared Vision!
We organized a brainstorming session with our stakeholders to develop the shared vision and came up with statements all the stakeholders agreed on. In our opinion the differences with respect to the content were minimal. With respect to the followed process the differences were huge of course! The new Vision was a shared Vision!
Some time ago we discussed a project with a problem: it had no shared vision. The team used the vision of one of the stakeholders, but that vision was not shared by the other stakeholders. It resulted in years with ongoing arguements on the scope, the quality of the system and the way to go.
I suggested to organize a session with all the stakeholders to define a shared vision. To my surprise the project manager ignored the advise argueing that discussing the vision would potentially have a huge impact on the scope of the project. He also feared the risk that the stakeholders would hold him responsible for using the wrong Vision and the wrong scope,
He would not have that fear if the Vision would have been a shared Vision from the start.